Northern Ireland

‘I gave her CPR and was able to restart her heart’ - Belfast man recalls how he tried to save his wife (34) after she collapsed from undiagnosed heart condition

Dympna Goodall
Dympna Goodall died suddenly in November 2021

A Belfast man has told of the terrifying moments he tried to restart his wife’s heart after she collapsed from an undiagnosed condition.

Nicky Goodall said he and his wife Dympna were sitting chatting when she suffered a cardiac arrest.

“I gave her CPR and was able to restart her heart before the ambulance arrived,” he recalled.

“Dympna was taken to hospital and was in ICU for a week before she passed away.”

Dympna was just 34-years-old and the mother of two boys, Daniel (7) and Matthew (4).

Daniel, Dympna and Matthew
Dympna with her two sons Daniel and Matthew

Mr Goodall is sharing his experience following the tragic death of his wife in November 2021 to urge support for the Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke (NICHS).

He is taking part in its ‘Red Dress Fun Run’ next month alongside the couple’s sons in memory of Dympna.

“Dympna’s passing came as a complete shock and it has been such an unbelievable loss to our entire family,” said Mr Goodall.

“We later found out Dympna had undiagnosed dilated cardiomyopathy, which is a disease of the heart muscle.

“It makes the muscle walls become stretched and thin. The thinner walls are weakened which means the heart can’t work properly to pump blood to the rest of the body.”

Dympna had been experiencing tiredness and shortness of breath over the months previous but Mr Goodall said the symptoms of dilated cardiomyopathy she was experiencing were put down to other factors.

“Dympna had our second son, Matthew, in January 2020, and our eldest son Daniel was in P1,” he said.

The Goodall family
The Goodall family

“Naturally there is a lot of feeling tired and run down which comes with looking after young children and we put her symptoms down to that.

“She actually went to see her GP the day before she had the cardiac arrest because she sensed something wasn’t quite right with how she was feeling.

“Sadly, her condition was not picked up in time.”

Mr Goodall said his wife was “fit and healthy and so full of life” and at 34 “should have had decades and decades to look forward to and spend with our sons”.

“Now they are a little older, the boys ask questions about their mum and there are always little things that crop up, so we just try to manage day by day.”

Mr Goodall said he wanted to do something to help others in his wife’s memory.

He undertook the Belfast City half marathon last year to raise funds for NICHS and is urging people to join him in the ‘Red Dress Fun Run’.

“It is important to me to try and educate people and that’s why I am sharing Dympna’s story and supporting the charity,” added Mr Goodall.

“Don’t ignore things or brush them off. People sometimes have the misconception that heart conditions are more likely to affect older people, but this isn’t always the case.

“Dympna was so young. I hope talking about what happened to Dympna will help spread awareness.”

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