Losing a child is one of greatest tragedies that anyone can go through. No parent, even of a sick child, expects their baby to die before them. But imagine believing that your child was the epitome of health one day and then realizing that you couldn’t have been more wrong.
Fifty-four-year-old Elaine Walsh is a mother who recently lost her only child, 23-year-old Patrick, and she has decided to show the world the very last text message she received from the university graduate after he unexpectedly died from what he thought was “man flu”.
Her son was a college graduate from Teignmouth, Devon, and he was living and working as an account manager in Silicon Valley in California – a reality that he thought he would only ever dream of. Unfortunately, this dream didn’t last long.
He died in his bed after suffering from a cardiac arrest. Just hours before, he sent his mother a message which read, “having the flu and going to work really took it out of” him. “As long as you are okay,” she replied, not knowing that this message exchange would be their last.
Patrick’s loved ones were shocked at the news because there had been no evidence to suggest that his health was failing him. In fact, he worked out regularly so he was much fitter than most men his age and generally maintained a healthy diet.
However, in January 2017, Elaine became worried when her son stopped replying to her messages. She knew something was wrong but had no idea what. She soon decided that the best course of action to take was to ring her ex-husband, John Walsh, who also lived in the US.
John resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Elaine urged him to ring the local police. Unfortunately, by the time the authorities broke into Patrick’s home, it was too late, and the 23-year-old had already passed away.
Elaine said that her son “loved his family to bits and would do anything for me. He had so much love to give – a truly caring and beautiful person. It was his dream to work in California so when he was offered the job at Canalys I couldn’t have been more proud.”
Patrick studied business management at Bath Spa University and then completed a master’s degree in business at the University of Birmingham. He began working in California at a research firm called Canalys in October 2016.
“The last time I heard from him was on January 15 this year,” Elaine said. He said he hadn’t been feeling well over Christmas like he had the flu.”
“I wanted everyone to see him and know it was someone important who had died,” Elaine explained. “People stopped in the street and did the sign of the cross for him before I followed his body, carried by his dad and stepbrother Robbie Walsh into the church.”
But what made Patrick’s death so tragic was that it could have easily been prevented…
An estimated seven out of 10 people who go into cardiac arrest could start breathing normally again with support from a nearby defibrillator. For those who don’t have a defibrillator, their chances of passing away are much higher as they are no longer inhaling oxygen into their lungs.
“Life without Patrick is empty and joyless,” Elaine said. “But I am determined to try and save lives for Patrick.”
“It’s important to get more defibrillators into public places, and if I can help save another life and prevent another family going through what I am going through now, then my son’s death won’t have been in vain; that’s what he would want.”
As Elaine said, it’s incredibly important that we are able to take more effective action when someone is in danger of losing their life in a public place with no medical professionals nearby.
Tragically, Patrick is not the only young person to have lost his life for this reason. A nearby defibrillator could also have prevented the death of a 13-year-old featured in the video below, who died after going into cardiac arrest during basketball practice:
We wish Patrick’s family and friends all the best recovering from their loss.