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Tyrone cardiac arrest survivor runs first 10km since collapse

A Dungannon man who suffered a cardiac arrest a year ago has taken part in his first fun run since it happened to raise vital funds for British Heart Foundation Northern Ireland (BHF NI) heart research.

Frank McNally recently completed a 10km run at the Lurgan Park Fun Run, raising over £1,000 in aid of the heart charity. The 64-year-old is marking a year on since he suffered a cardiac arrest at his home and his wife Maura stepped in to save his life.

On March 21 last year, the Tyrone man had just finished a 5 km run with his step-daughter when he suddenly collapsed.

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Frank said: “I’ve always been reasonably fit. I love to run and have taken part in the Great North Run, the Belfast Marathon and would go to my local park run in MUSA, Cookstown, as well.

Cardiac arrest survivor, Frank McNally is supported by his sisters Anne Marie and Geraldine at his first 10km run since his collapse in March 2021.

“On Sunday March 21 I ran my usual 5k route around Dungannon with my step-daughter Marianna, son-in-law Justin and grandson David. After the run I had a shower and then had lunch with my wife Maura. We were planning to go for a walk, however before doing so I decided to send a couple of texts to my daughter Jacqueline and son Paul. That’s the last thing I remember.”

Unknown to Frank, he had suffered a cardiac arrest. Luckily, his wife Maura had come into the living room and found him almost immediately. Maura called emergency services and got help from a neighbour. Maura was given CPR instructions by the emergency call handler and together with their neighbour, they performed CPR for 15 minutes until emergency services arrived and took over.

The paramedics worked on Frank for 40 minutes, shocking him twice with a defibrillator. He was then taken to Craigavon Area Hospital where he received a further defibrillator shock and was put into an induced coma.

Frank continued: “Maura and my son Paul were able to see me, however I was unconscious but at least my heart was stabilised. It was a really scary time for my family. At that stage they didn’t know if I would recover or if there would be any internal damage.

“I was brought out of the induced coma three days later and it was another two days before I fully realised what had occurred; after consultants explained what had happened. I remained in the Cardiology Unit in Craigavon Area Hospital for four weeks. After numerous tests I had a stent placed into one of the arteries in my heart and an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) fitted. Thankfully, no lasting damage was detected with my heart.”

Reflecting on his journey back to running, Frank said: “I was off work for almost six months and during that period I had to follow a strict cardiac rehab programme so I am delighted to be back running again, albeit at slower pace. My ICD is monitored daily via an app on my iPhone, in the ICD clinic in the Royal Victoria Hospital. It is truly amazing the technology that is now available to keep you alive.”

Supporting BHF NI through his official return to running was therefore very important to Frank. For more than 60 years, the public’s generosity has funded BHF research that has turned ideas that once seemed like 'science fiction' into treatments that save lives every day.

​ Head of BHF NI Fearghal McKinney thanked Frank, his family, friends and work colleagues for their generosity.

“We are hugely grateful to Frank, his family and friends for their generosity. Frank is living proof of the power of BHF heart research and how amazing scientific advances are healing people right across Northern Ireland.

“With the public’s help, we are determined to do all we can to save and improve lives. Donations from local people will power the science to help find the breakthroughs, treatments and cures of the future.

“For more than 60 years, public support has helped the BHF turn research that once seemed like ‘science fiction’ into reality and we need the help of amazing fundraisers like Frank now more than ever.”

Frank added: “I will be forever grateful to the Ambulance Service, consultants, doctors and nurses in the Cardiology Unit in Craigavon Area Hospital and the Southern Health and Social Care Trust Cardiac Rehab Team. Most of all I will be forever grateful to my wife, who without a doubt, saved my life.”

You can still support Frank’s efforts via his online giving page at justgiving.com/fundraising/frank-mcnally10. To find out more about supporting BHF NI, please contact Fundraising Manager Órla Clarke on [email protected] or 077 1406 9129.

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