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Belgooly farmer feels extremely lucky to be alive after suffering heart shock

January 17th, 2022 11:40 AM

By Emma Connolly

Michael Hayes says he’s lucky to be alive after his shock heart diagnosis. He thought being ‘active’ was the same as being ‘fit’. (Photo: John Allen)

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A BELGOOLY farmer who feels lucky to be alive after suffering a heart attack wants to warn others like him of the importance of being physically fit.

Michael Hayes had no warning signs before his life-changing heart attack last July at the age of 48.

Running his own successful farm fabrication business, MH Agri Services, he regarded himself as being very active, and said there was no history of heart disease in his family.

‘I remember the day before, I did feel a little bit unwell with some very mild pains in my chest,’ he recalled.

‘Then the following day at around 7pm when I was working, I developed a crushing pain in my chest. It was totally disabling, so much that I couldn’t even get a phone out of my pocket,’ he said.

Luckily, he was in the yard and not from his house and made it back there, where family members raised the alarm.

‘I did very well to even get to the house before collapsing. The pain was really unbelievable. I was lying on the floor and couldn’t even speak. At one point I wasn’t sure I’d even make it. The ambulance was called and my sister and neighbour also got the local defibrillator,’ he said.

Michael had emergency stents inserted in his heart that night, but as a consequence of the heart attack, he has been left with what’s called ‘heart muscle death.’

‘Ultimately I’ve been left with life-long health complications. I was initially discharged from hospital after four days but was back a week later with further complications and have been in and out since,’ he said.

He is now, thankfully, on the road to recovery and on a journey of intense cardio rehabilitation at CUH, and is so indebted to the staff there that he has organised a fundraiser to raise €10,000 for both them and the Irish Heart Foundation.

‘I was never even aware of the cardio unit at CUH, and it’s only when you suffer a major event like I did, that you can respect and appreciate the work they do for you on your journey of recovery.’

Now aged 49, he also feels compelled to educate other young men, and women, that they could find themselves in the same situation as him.

‘I want people to know that being a very active person doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a fit person. There’s a difference between the two. I was active, but not fit. I’ve now made radical lifestyle changes, quit smoking and am walking around 8km a day. I’m also very aware of the fat and salt content of the food I eat,’ he said.

Michael also pointed out that he was only carrying around half a stone excess weight at the time of the attack, and that a lot of his fellow patients in the cardio unit are other young people.

In hindsight, he realises that running his own business, and employing a team of five, meant he had a stressful lifestyle and, after his brush with death, he made the decision to retire from his agri-business and continue as a tillage farmer.

‘The decision was made for me really. It was either give it up or go myself,’ he said.

To hit the fundraising target, he’s raffling two sheds (one measuring 10mx5m and another 4m by 2.5m), 30 round bales of barley straw and various vouchers, combined worth over €7,000.

‘I feel extremely grateful to be alive and I’ve turned my life upside down and inside out as a result. Luck was on my side and the man above must just have decided it wasn’t my time to go,’ he said.

To buy a ticket or donate to the fundraiser see www.idonate.ie/raffle/CardiacCare. The raffle will take place at an auction of his equipment  on January 22nd at Oatlands, Belgooly at 11am.

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