Friday 28 October 2016

Week 9: Help for those dealing with sudden death in the young

Brenda McCormick meets Lucia Ebbs, fundraising manager for Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY)

Lucia and her son Max
Lucia and her son Max

Based in Tallaght, the Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) charity was set up to raise awareness of Sudden Cardiac Death or Sudden Adult Death Syndrome.

It provides counselling and support for families affected by sudden death or cardiac conditions and has five family support members throughout Ireland.

Chairman Michael Green and his wife Marie founded CRY after the sudden death of their son Peter in 1996. CRY fundraising manager Lucia Ebbs has worked with Michael since the late 1980s and when CRY was set up, looking after the paperwork and admin.

However, in 2002 she had her own bereavement to deal with. She explains: "The cause became personal to me on 22nd of May 2002 when my niece Jenny O'Riordan died suddenly. Jenny ('Jenny Jewel' to the family) was my sister Kate's and her husband Jerry's only daughter.

"Jenny died suddenly from cardiomyopathy on her father's 50th birthday. I will never forget the call; I was just in the door from a holiday and Kate called to say Jenny had been taken to Blanchardstown Hospital.

"I collected Kate and we drove to the hospital but I think I knew at the time that she would be dead when we arrived, and she was. Jenny had died while sitting with her best friend Sinead O'Brien, looking at booking flights for a holiday.

"Jenny's sudden death devastated all of our lives but especially Kate, Jerry and her brother JJ. Jenny was 26, beautiful, bright, kind and had so much to live for. Her friends and colleagues were heartbroken too. Time helps you to live with it but you never forget.

"Nothing is ever the same and no family event or occasion happens without you knowing someone is missing. Kate now works as a volunteer with the CRY charity and will support families affected as she has been.


"After Jen's death her employer visited Kate at home to sympathise and told her they wanted to do something positive to remember Jen. After that visit we discussed it with Michael and CRY's website was born.

"I am the fundraising manager for the charity and I look after the day-to-day admin in the office in the centre in Tallaght, dealing with families who approach us for help, support or to offer to fundraise.

"My own three boys, Jack, Harry and Max, are patients in the centre so I understand the concerns of a parent who needs to come for screening and the peace of mind.

"Every story is different but every time I take a call from a bereaved family I understand a little of where they are coming from."

For more information go to www.cry.ie

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