herald

Monday 18 December 2017

Young student died from seizure after clinic epilepsy test

A PROMISING young student died just hours after a test for epilepsy at the Blackrock Clinic, an inquest heard yesterday.

Fiona O'Reilly (23), from Pine Court in Blackrock, south Dublin, died at her home on September 7, 2010, after suffering a seizure while resting following an (EEG) test that morning.

At yesterday's hearing, Fiona's father Conor O'Reilly said: "I couldn't imagine a closer bond than the one that existed between us."

Dublin Coroner's Court heard that Ms O'Reilly first experienced seizures aged 10, but tests proved inconclusive.

At her last consultation in Tallaght Hospital in 2008 she was told that she had "imagined" some of her symptoms and was suffering from panic attacks rather than epilepsy.

In the year prior to death, she started experiencing seizures in her sleep.

Her GP referred her privately to Professor Niall Tubridy, who told the court that he decided to start afresh, ordering a number of tests including the sleep-deprived EEG.

The aim of the EEG was to uncover abnormalities in brain activity rather than induce a seizure, he said. However, patients are at higher risk of seizing immediately following the procedure.

Consultant neurophysiologist Dr Sean Connolly said that at the time of Ms O'Reilly's test, patients undergoing a sleep-deprived EEG were only advised not to drive home.

They were not told of any increased risk of seizure. He had never seen or heard of a sudden unexpected death in epilepsy occurring in the hours following the procedure. Ms O'Reilly did not sleep for 24 hours prior to the test. The EEG showed some activity consistent with epilepsy but was largely uneventful. She went home to bed.

At about 7pm, her mother attempted to rouse her for dinner. She was found face down on the floor, tangled up in her bed sheets and unresponsive.

Her brother attempted CPR but when the emergency services arrived it was clear that she had been dead for some time.

The post-mortem found Ms O'Reilly died from positional asphyxia caused by a probable seizure consistent with sudden unexpected death in epilepsy.

hnews@herald.ie

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