Inspirational Padge was only 16 when diagnosed

By Mary Dennehy

A FUNDRAISING campaign is underway to raise funds for a cough assist machine at Tallaght University Hospital, in memory of an inspirational young man who passed away last month after living with motor neuron disease for 16 years.

Patrick Kelly, who was fondly known as Padge, passed away on May 30 at the age of 32.

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Padge Kelly sadly passed away on May 30. He is pictured with his mother Joan

Padge was diagnosed with motor neuron disease (MND) when he was just 16, and was the youngest person in Ireland at the time to be diagnosed with the progressive neurological condition.

By the age of 18, Padge was in a wheelchair and at 19 was dependant on his parents Joan and Pat, and on the assistance of carers.

Due to the nature of MND, which attacks the nerves in the brain and spinal cord, leading to muscle weakness and wasting, Padge was also dependant on a computer programme for communication.

However, this didn’t stop Padge from moving forward and over the years he travelled extensively, represented Ireland in international Boccia sporting competitions and helped promote and raise awareness of the Irish Motor Neuron Disease Association.

Padge also spent the past four years working on a physics degree in Electro Magnetism, earning his degree shortly before he passed away.

Jonathan Power, from Ballyfermot, was Padge’s PA for the past eight years, and he told The Echo: “I came in as a carer to Padge but we became friends. He was like a brother to me.

“When Padge was diagnosed with motor neuron, it hit him and the family hard but he got on with his life . . . he never let it beat him.

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Padge with his mam Joan, his dad Paddy and team mate Naomi Mallinc

“He got a degree in physics just a few weeks [before he passed away] . . . he was an absolute inspiration, and had an unbelievable impact on those around him.”

The youngest of five children, Padge grew up in Clondalkin before moving to Lucan with his parents. 

Describing Padge as “a very determined man”, his cousin Olivia Blanch, who lives in Tallaght, said: “Padge had the most amazing relationship with his mam and dad, but his mam Joan wins hands down every time.

“He loved his family and he had a very special bond with his nieces and nephews.

“He was also interested in how they were doing in school and their hobbies and was always laughing and slagging with them.”

In April, Padge was admitted to Tallaght University Hospital, where the staff had cared for him since he was 16.

After three weeks in the hospital, during which time his condition deteriorated, Padge was moved to Our Lady’s Hospice, Harold’s Cross, before passing away on May 30.

According to Olivia: “The strength of Padge’s character shone through when he left Tallaght Hospital to go to the hospice on his “holiers”.

“It was Padge’s wish that a cough assist machine be bought for Tallaght Hospital . . . even when he was dying he was thinking of others coming behind him.

“Tallaght Hospital were absolutely fantastic in the care they gave to Padge over the years and this is a way of repaying the care they gave.

“Padge is gone but he still has us all working on his behalf to fulfil his dream of helping others.”

A cough assist machine is used for patients with muscle-weakening conditions like motor neuron who can’t cough or clear their own lungs.

Tallaght University Hospital confirmed to The Echo that they currently have two cough assist machines that are used across both inpatient and outpatient departments to help people cough more effectively when they have breathing problems.

The fundraiser in memory of Padge hopes to enhance the number of cough assist machines in the hospital, with any money left over being donated to the hospice and the Irish Motor Neuron Disease Association.

According to Olivia, Padge’s family hopes that the campaign not only raises money for the cough assist machine but awareness of motor neuron disease, and how something as simple as a cough can be a struggle for those with the condition.

The fundraising campaign has currently raised €3,195 of a €5,000 goal. 

To support the campaign, visit GoFundMe.ie (Cough Assist Machine in memory of Padge Kelly).

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