Aisling was one of our best friends since meeting in 5th year at Scoil Muire. She was the Mammy of the group, organized and hardworking. She adored her job as a secondary school teacher and was passionate about her work. She loved traveling and nights out and was always up for an adventure.
Moving to Dubai was to be her biggest adventure yet, and she quickly built a life there, joining a tag rugby team and making new friends from all over the world. She was living the dream, excelling in her job, in love with her soul mate, and traveling the world. She planned to move home and start a family eventually. She was taking precautions by taking the combined oral contraceptive pill.
While Aisling was living in Dubai, she was frequently on long-haul flights on her many adventures worldwide. She even flew home to Ireland in April 2017 on a short weekend visit as her grandmother was unwell.
Aisling texted us in October 2016 asking an ‘asthma question’. She had not been able to take a deep breath in ages, and her chest was tight. She was short of breath with chest pains when training. She said she felt like she had suddenly become extremely unfit and was finding it hard to walk upstairs. We advised her to go to her Doctor and get checked out. She said she needed to go because her ankle and calf were swollen. When Aisling went to the Doctor, she was told she had a Vitamin D deficiency and needed to drink more water. She also had an X-ray, and the orthopedic doctor gave it a rub, undermined her concerns, and sent her home. Life went on, and Aisling continued to complain of her symptoms. She started googling and even called her Mam, saying she thought she may have a blood clot, but her doctor kept dismissing her.
Everything changed on 27th November 2017. Aisling went to school after working extremely hard to prepare her year twelve and year thirteen reports. This is where she fainted for the first time, causing her to hit her head hard on the floor. After three minutes knocked out, she came to and sat in a wheelchair, disoriented but totally aware, as she was giving orders (typical Aisling) to the teachers, who would be picking up her work for the day. She was frustrated at the fuss being made over what seemed to be a simple faint caused by stress. Luckily, Aisling was put in an ambulance and quickly transported to the hospital.
Once in the ambulance, things started to take a serious turn. Aisling suffered three seizures on the journey, and luckily within 3-4 minutes of resuscitation, she was brought back, then suffered a second and third cardiac arrest. Each resulted in 3-4 minutes of resuscitation. This was further complicated by stroke, caused by a shower of smaller blood clots to the brain.
Aisling suffered serious damage to her brain and, combined with a total of twelve minutes of hypoxia, really left her cardiovascular system and brain very weak.
The cause of all of this was a Pulmonary Embolism (blood clots in her lung) which had started in her leg over a long period of time. A piece of the clot broke off and traveled through her heart and into her lungs.
Aisling was eventually flown home by air ambulance and spent some time in the hospital before returning to her family home and eventually a nursing home. She left us in March 2020 after a brave battle to recover.
If Aisling’s doctors had risk assessed her for blood clots, they would have seen that she had a number of risk factors like the combined oral contraceptive pill and many long-haul travel journeys. If they had listened to her concerns about having a blood clot and treated her with anticoagulation medication, she could still be with us today.
We are telling Aisling’s story today because her friends and family, who loved and miss her so much, do not want this to happen to anyone else. Aisling’s death was preventable.
Girls, are you taking an estrogen-containing contraceptive or oral estrogen-containing HRT? Please familiarise yourself with the signs and symptoms of a blood clot. Make sure that you know all the risk factors for blood clots because there are many and blood clots usually happen when you have two or more of these risk factors. Be vigilant for the signs and always get medical advice if you suspect you may have symptoms.
If you want more information, please contact Thrombosis Ireland to receive your Blood Clot Alert card or download it from their website, www.thrombosis.ie. It could save your life.