A paramedic from Clonmel was among 14 stroke heroes honoured this week at the Irish Heart Foundation’s 3rd annual Life After Stroke Awards sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim in the Gibson Hotel in Dublin.
Fifty year old Joe O’Donoghue saw the tables reversed four years ago when he became the emergency after being struck down by stroke. Joe said: “In May 2008 I was in bed when I got a cramp in my leg. I put down my hand to massage it but I couldn’t feel it. When I went to turn on the light the coordination in my hand was gone so I knew that something was wrong.” Joe demonstrated great courage and determination during his rehabilitation and returned to work as a paramedic 14 months later. Now Joe is a stalwart supporter of his local stroke support group helping to spread the Irish Heart Foundation’s vital Act FAST message. Joe was nominated for the Adult Courage Award by stroke nurse Gemma McLoughlin from South Tipperary General who said: “We’re all really proud of Joe; he’s an inspiration for all the stroke patients. Since his stroke he has done lots of charity cycles and he even cycled the Ring of Kerry. He’s so brave with everything he has been through and is a breath of fresh air at the stroke support meetings.”
According to Barry Dempsey, Chief Executive of the Irish Heart Foundation, there are nearly 50,000 stroke survivors in Ireland today. He said: “Stroke affects tens of thousands of families every year in this country but we hardly ever hear their story. Our charity is proud to host the national stroke awards to bring to light the daily miracles and heroic efforts happening around the country in overcoming stroke. Our award winners are inspirational and they represent the strength of all stroke survivors nationwide. We hope their stories will dispel the myths that stroke only happens to older people or that it is a sentence of death. There is life after stroke, and we have the heroes to prove it”.