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Victim of bike fall lived for 16 years locked in own body

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Anthony Mason had surgery at Beaumont Hospital

Anthony Mason had surgery at Beaumont Hospital

Anthony Mason had surgery at Beaumont Hospital

A man developed locked-in syndrome after delayed surgery following a fall from a bicycle, an inquest heard.

Anthony Mason, from Artane, Dublin, was a passenger on the crossbar of a bike when the accident happened in Mountjoy Square, Dublin, on September 9, 2002. He was 23.

Dublin Coroner's Court heard he hit his head on the footpath in the fall. He displayed no symptoms initially but collapsed less than an hour later.

"He was on a pushbike with somebody and a car pulled out and he hit his head on the footpath," his sister Denise Mason said.

He was rushed to St James's Hospital. A scan revealed a blood clot on his brain and he was transferred to Beaumont Hospital for surgery on September 14.

"The doctor said if he had seen him earlier he could have done more for him," Ms Mason said.

Mr Mason never fully recovered and was diagnosed with locked-in syndrome, in which a patient is aware but unable to communicate verbally.

He returned home to the care of his family where he remained for 16 years before his death.

"He never spoke again. Mam came up with an alphabet to communicate. He couldn't move, only his eyes, head and thumbs," Ms Mason said.

Mr Mason was visited regularly by friends and enjoyed football and comedies on TV.

Ms Mason became his primary carer after the death of their father in 2005 and mother in 2013.

Mr Mason had hoped stem-cell research could improve his condition but when this was ruled out he expressed a wish not to continue living.

"He had a happy life. He was just tired," Ms Mason said.

He declined food and water and was assessed by a psychiatrist who found him capable of making this decision.

Loved

A palliative care plan was put in place and Mr Mason died in May 2018 surrounded by his family, aged 39.

The cause of death was spastic quadriparesis in locked-in syndrome following the fall 16 years previously.

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane recorded a narrative verdict.

"He was very much loved and very well cared for and still very much part of the family. Hopefully in some way he is at peace now," she said.