A beloved young mum has died at the age of 35 from a sudden cardiac arrest after her routine appointments were cancelled due to the Covid pandemic.
Gemma O’Shea, who had a heart condition, died suddenly on May 11 after her in-person routine appointments were cancelled scrapped.
Her devastated husband Lee O’Shea, who had been with Gemma for 14 years and married for five, described her as a “fantastic mum” to their sons Finley, three, and Mason, eight.
Lee said that Gemma’s death had come as a shock to the whole family as she seemed “the fittest she had ever been”, reports Wales Online.
Gemma had a heart condition which meant she had a leaking valve on her heart. She would usually go into hospital for a routine check-up every six to 12 months but these were being done virtually at the time of her death due to the coronavirus pandemic.
On the day of her death the family were visiting Lee’s mother in Barry to pick up a storage container. While there she collapsed in the garden.
Lee performed CPR on his wife but sadly she could not be saved.
“We were travelling down to Barry to pick up a storage box from my mother at her caravan – one of the big ones but it wasn’t very heavy,” said Lee.
“It was a muddy back garden so we were going to lift it over the wall. I went around the other side and then the woman next door said: ‘You better come round here, she’s collapsed’.
“And as I walked around then I saw Gemma on the floor just lying there. Basically that was it – she had had a cardiac arrest.
“I worked on her for a while, it was a while before the ambulance got there, but sadly she passed away.
“The boys saw it all because unfortunately they were with me – she had a cardiac arrest because of a leaking valve on her heart.”
Lee said that Gemma had lived with her heart condition for years and outwardly appeared fine and healthy.
“Every six months to a year she would go into hospital and have a thorough check up – an ECG et cetera – but because of Covid this wasn’t happening. Everything was being done over the phone.
“At the time she was fine – or so we thought. It was probably the fittest she’s ever been – she was walking, getting really into fitness. Perhaps she was doing too much exercise. Whether that played a part against her, who knows?
“Looking back she said she had a headache but then again she did suffer with migraines. You look back and you pinpoint everything. I remember on that day thinking she was quiet and she was looking tired but you wouldn’t know because you wouldn’t expect anything like that.
“She had a leaking valve or chamber on her heart and eventually she probably would have had to have an operation on it but it was always monitored by the hospital. The problem was because she hadn’t been in the valve had become twice as bad but none of us would have known.
“It’s the thing where Covid strikes again but because she couldn’t go to the hospital to get the check-up she needed. It worked out that yes had she gone in they would have caught it but with Covid and catching [the virus] in the hospital you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”
As well as her husband Gemma has left behind her parents Claire and Keith, her two brothers Sam and Nathan, and her beloved sons Lee says that while Finley is too young to understand what has happened properly Mason has started to feel the loss of his mum.
“My youngest isn’t too bad now, he’s slowly coming through it, but my eight-year-old, Mason, is struggling.
“He’s doing well, he is going to school, but I think I am going to have to ring the doctor soon. We have spoken to Barnados but because of the age they sometimes don’t see people until a certain time. But I do think he will need to see somebody soon. He’s at the age now where he’s up and down now, where he has good and bad days.
“I promised her I’d do it for the boys and I think it would be harder if I didn’t have them. They give me a reason to get up every day.
“It’s the hardest thing I’ll ever do in my life but my family and friends have been great – they’ve all rallied together. My mother has actually moved in with me for a while to help me out.”
Lee said he was taking the loss day by day. “It’s up and down,” he said. “It’s one of those things where you have to somehow try and get on. I have to try and be as normal to be an example for them.
“I don’t know if it seems longer than nine weeks. It seems longer because I haven’t seen her for so long but then I want it to be longer for the boys because you hear time is a great healer.”
Paying tribute to her he said: “She was a family woman. She loved a glass of Prosecco with her friends. She was outgoing – if she went out she would be last on the dancefloor.
“She was a fantastic mum and wife and a proper family person. She was dedicated to her work – a complete family mum. She was very close to her mum Claire, dad Keith, and two brothers Sam and Nathan.”
Gemma had worked at MotoNovo finance in Cardiff at the time of her death. Lee says the company have been “amazing” and as well as dealing with her death in service payments have also raised money themselves for the family.
Alongside this a GoFundMe page was set up by family and friends of Gemma where more than £16,000 has been raised for the boys with dozens of people leaving messages of condolence.