Saturday 23 March 2019

Chef died after choking on Mars bar while on the Luas

David O’Reilly was helped by fellow passengers at Abbey Street Luas stop
David O’Reilly was helped by fellow passengers at Abbey Street Luas stop

A Luas passenger who choked on a Mars bar and later died had a "heart of gold", according to his family.

David O'Reilly (49), of Kingscourt, Co Cavan, stepped off the Luas at Abbey Street and collapsed on October 29, 2015.

"He had a heart of gold. He was so kind. He had very little but he would give you anything," said his sister, Frances Buchanan, after an inquest into his death.

She said Mr O'Reilly trained as a chef at the age of 15 after the family of seven siblings lost both parents when they were very young. This had a traumatic effect on her younger brother, said Ms Buchanan.

"He loved sport, he called around often to visit my sons and they would watch football together. They were very close," she said.

"He was very religious and had visited Medjugorje and expressed a wish to go back. He had managed to turn his life around."

A resumed inquest into Mr O'Reilly's death heard that a number of people got off the Luas at the Abbey Street stop in a bid to help him.

He was rushed to the Mater Hospital, where part of a Mars bar was removed from his airway. He was treated in the intensive care unit and later transferred to a six-bed ward, where his family found him in a distressed state.

The family raised concerns about the manner in which he was moved from the high dependency unit.

The inquest heard a care plan had been devised that said Mr O'Reilly would be moved to a single occupancy room for palliative care, so his siblings were upset to find him on a ward.

The inquest at Dublin Coroner's Court heard evidence from Mater Hospital palliative care consultant Professor Karen Ryan. Asked if the nature of the transfer to the ward had any bearing on Mr O'Reilly's death, Prof Ryan replied, "no".

Mr O’Reilly pictured in his youth
Mr O’Reilly pictured in his youth


Coroner Dr Crona Gallagher noted that "the damage was done" after he had been deprived of oxygen following the choking incident.

Ms Buchanan said it was important that Mr O'Reilly should have dignity in death and, once he was moved to a single occupancy room, his palliative care was "second to none".

In his medical report, consultant on call Dr Stephen Stuart noted the man had inhaled part of a Mars bar and suffered a cardiac arrest.

Mr O'Reilly died at the Mater Hospital on November 17, 2015. The cause of death was severe brain damage due to lack of oxygen caused by aspiration of a food bolus.

The coroner returned a verdict of accidental death.

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