Northern Ireland news

Mum-of-five who collapsed during son's GAA match was 'devoted to others'

Siobhan McVey with husband Aiden and children, from left, Niall, Louise, Paul, Declan and Catherine, at the Derry senior football final in October 2009.
Mairead Holland

THE family of a Co Derry woman who died after collapsing at a GAA match are to donate her organs to give others the gift of life.

Siobhan McVey (56) had been attending Sunday's match between Emmet's GAC Slaughneil and St Patrick's GAC Loup at the Loup home ground, just beside her home, when she fell ill.

The mother-of-five and grandmother-of-two suffered an aneurysm and subsequent cardiac arrest, collapsing at the side of her husband Aiden and daughter Catherine.

One of her three sons, Declan, was playing in the Derry Senior League match when the tragedy unfolded in the final five minutes of the game.

Frantic efforts were made to save Mrs McVey including the use of a defibrillator, and she was transferred to Antrim Area Hospital where her family was told she would not recover.

Her son Paul said the family made the decision to donate his mother's organs, allowing all of them to spend a final two days together "that we will always treasure".

"She gave her life in the service of others and her final act of giving was to allow three other people another chance at life by donating her kidneys and her pancreas."

Mrs McVey, who gave up work in 1987 for 14 years to look after her children, had been a playgroup assistant at Discovering Kids Playgroup in the Loup since its formation in 2001.

Mr McVey said: "She loved children. Her nature was to look after other people - daddy, her own children and the children in the playgroup. Over the years she was at the playgroup, she would have seen 1,000 plus children coming through the doors.

"She gave us the best childhood ever. Right through my primary school days, she walked us up to school and when we came home you could have smelt the baking as you came in the door, and there would have been clothes warming for you on the radiator.

"We are so blessed because of her and daddy's guidance throughout our lives. She taught us values of respect and good manners, and she was devoted to her faith, which she embedded in us.

"Her life was not without its challenges but she overcame them with her faith and her positive attitude to life. Her death has left a massive hole in our family."

Her son said there was nothing to suspect she was unwell.

"She had a real zest for life and she liked simple things. She loved nature - watching the birds and looking out at the flowers in the garden.

"She never asked for anything. What made her happy was when we were happy. The only indulgence she had was getting her hair done every Saturday.

"She never smoke or drank, she walked every day. It is such a shock."

The previous Sunday, the devoted grandmother had enjoyed a special double family celebration at her daughter's house - Mother's Day and grandson Jack's first birthday.

Mr McVey said one of the proudest moments in his mother's life was in October 2009 when Loup won the Derry senior football final in which both he and Declan were playing.

The family have offered their heartfelt thanks to Antrim Area Hospital for the care Mrs McVey received as well as the response of everyone at the scene.

They are also very grateful for the respect shown by the teams and everyone at the ground when the seriousness of Mrs McVey's condition became apparent.

"You could have heard a pin drop," said Mr McVey. "Not one member of the teams left the ground until mummy had been taken through the gate.

"And a family friend Dermot McAlynn started an impromptu decade of the Rosary as mummy was being worked at on the ground.

"The support we have since from the community, from our own club and from Slaughneil club shows the respect she was held in."

Mrs McVey is survived by Aiden, her husband of 33 years, who is principal of Tannaghmore PS in Lurgan, as well as her children Paul, Louise, Declan, Catherine and Niall, grandchildren Cíeva and Jack and family circle.

Her funeral will leave from her home at Ballyneill Road, Loup tomorrow for 11am Requiem Mass in the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Moortown, followed by burial at the Church of St Patrick, Loup.

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