Cork man misses son's Holy Communion to take part in heroic helicopter transfer of critically ill patient to hospital in London

Cork man misses son's Holy Communion to take part in heroic helicopter transfer of critically ill patient to hospital in London

Neville Murphy on the far right pictured with his colleagues.

CORK man Neville Murphy had an eventful day last Saturday as he along with his colleagues in CHC Helicopters helped save a young boy’s life.

Neville’s dramatic lifesaving mission came at a personal cost however, as he missed his son Eoin’s First Holy Communion. Neville and his work colleagues were forced to deal with an emergency situation as they transported a critically ill young boy to Kings Hospital in London for a lifesaving organ transplant.

CHC Helicopters who are based in Waterford have a contract with the Irish Coast Guard to provide rescue services. Neville operates as a winch operator and paramedic with CHC.

The Skibbereen native is well used to high octane work in his job with CHC Helicopters. Neville was due to finish his 24-hour shift at 1pm last Saturday, just in time to make the 2pm start for his son’s First Holy Communion before fate intervened. 

“The plan was to finish work at 1pm and get home. I live very near the base, so I would have been ready within the space of ten minutes. The plan was on track until we got a call that morning at 8.30am. 

"We got a call from the Irish Coast Guard co-ordination centre who passed on a message that there was a critically ill young boy who needed to get to King’s Hospital in London for an organ transplant.” 

 Neville and his colleagues immediately sprung into action. “We got planning straight away. The ambulance was being sent to Waterford. It was a time-critical mission, so we set about saving as much time as possible. We got the ambulance to re-route to Wexford as we have a landing site there. We met the patient and we immediately flew to London. It took about two hours to get there. We met the London ambulance service who took the patient to King’s Hospital.” 

Their swift actions thankfully resulted in a happy ending as the young boy is now making great progress after receiving the organ transplant. 

Neville Murphy on the far right pictured with his colleagues.
Neville Murphy on the far right pictured with his colleagues.

“The time window is very small. The patient has to get there within a certain time. Thankfully he made that window and all went well. He was a lovely young lad. We were having the craic with him on the way over. His mother was also on the flight. It is good to interact with them and take their minds off the job at hand for a spell. There is an organ transplant list in Ireland which people are put on depending on their severity. 

"When something pops up in either Ireland or the UK, we get a message saying there is an organ and we have a person who is in urgent need. It is up to us then to ensure the patient gets to the hospital as soon as possible. Some family in the UK have lost someone so they are grieving, while another family are naturally relieved.” 

Though his job is demanding, Neville loves his job which presents such a great variety on a daily basis. 

“There were four of us on duty. Following our successful mission, we were buzzing coming back. We went home delighted that we had played our part in helping save someone’s life. We helped change their life in a huge way. Huge work goes on behind the scenes. Good communication is vital. We are in constant dialogue with engineers with regards fuel and visibility. Time pressure is a huge problem. We are there when needed and we are glad to play our part.” 

Following Neville’s heroics, he immediately raced to his house in Dunmore East, Waterford. Neville missed the Holy Communion service and as he was arriving home he met his wife and kids as they were arriving back after the service. 

Neville with his wife Melissa and his son Eoin. Neville and Melisssa celebrated their 13th wedding anniversary, while Eoin received his First Holy communion last Saturday.
Neville with his wife Melissa and his son Eoin. Neville and Melisssa celebrated their 13th wedding anniversary, while Eoin received his First Holy communion last Saturday.

Last Saturday, August 29 was also a significant day in the Murphy household. It marked the 13th wedding anniversary of Neville and his wife Melissa. 

“We spent a lovely day catching up. We chilled out at home. We had a barbecue and a small family gathering. My employers sent us a bouquet of flowers when they heard I missed the communion which was a lovely touch. When I got home, I had a quick chat with my little man Eoin. I was offering my apologies for missing his big day. He told me that he would have loved if I was there, but he knew I saved someone’s life so that is okay. It was a lovely feeling and it struck a chord with me. We have to cherish our families. I am very fortunate they are so supportive. They know the nature of my job. When I go to work, they never know when I will be home. They are so understanding.” 

Neville who is a keen sportsman played a huge role in helping the O’Donovan Rossa senior footballers win county and All-Ireland final glory in 1992 and 1993. Neville who was a talented forward, has great memories of that era. He loves bringing his family down to Skibbereen. 

“We get home as often as possible. My mother turned 80 during lockdown. It was tough not being with her. My kids love seeing their granny. I have great memories from my sporting career. It was a great time. I am very proud of our achievements. My kids are now playing. Sport is a great outlet. The main thing is they enjoy it.”

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