A loss 'too hard to bear' as fighter Kathy loses life battle
A GENTLE squeeze of the hand filled with loved meant everything to Patricia McClelland as her 34-year-old daughter Kathy's life tragically slipped away.
Viral myocarditis was cold-heartedly robbing Patricia and her family of the vital presence in her life that was Kathy Kucuck, a wife and devoted mum to her 14-month-old daugher Zoe. A distraught Patricia has revealed her precious Kathy, one of her three Irish daughters and three sons, was about to undergo a desperate last minute bid to save her life via a heart transplant.
Patricia had flown up from Adelaide after Kathy's worsening bout of illness saw her admitted to Noosa hospital and then airlifted to Prince Charles Hospital where she was placed on life support.
"They did lessen her medication to see if her brain function was working and it was,” Patricia said.
"She looked at me and she must have thought 'what on earth is my mother doing in Brisbane?'
"And I said to her, 'hi darling, you know I love you so much' and she looked at me and she nodded her head, she couldn't speak obviously. And I said 'if you know it's me Kath, just squeeze my hand and she did. It meant everything to me, she knew I was there.”
Patricia saw how ill Kathy was, but knew no one was more determined than her daughter.
"Kathy taught herself to walk, she wouldn't even let us do it. She did everything herself,” Patricia said.
"The doctor said to me 'is she a fighter?' and I went 'oh yeah' and I said 'if she fights for anything it will be for her child'. I was saying 'she'll fight this, she's a tough girl'.”
Patricia was at first dismayed to see her daughter hooked up to so many tubes and machines that "looked like something out of Starship Enterprise”, but there was hope.
"When we realised that she'd got the (donor) heart, we really thought that this was it. They were going to shut down Kathy's whole immune system so that this heart would take.
"The heart transplant in the end that was the sixth operation. She couldn't take any more and she just passed on the table.”
Patricia said her son David told her "we've lost her”.
"I actually just didn't take that in for a minute, I seriously did not. That's my baby girl, it's so hard. I know my daughter fought and it was too hard in the end. For me by profession, I'm a teacher, but I'm also a trained counsellor.
"I know all about the grieving, I help people through this, but you can't help yourself.”
Before Kathy's condition had seriously deteriorated, her only thought had been for Zoe.
"She just wanted to go home to her baby, the 14-month-old baby that she has,” Patricia said.
She said the medical team in the intensive care unit of the Prince Charles Hospital could not have done any more to save her daughter.
"They were just shocked as well ... they were giving everything to a 34-year-old young mother, and we had photographs everywhere of her baby daughter. And a doctor took Zoe in to see her.”
Patricia and her family will be forever grateful to the donor family.
"I have so much admiration for families who have said 'go ahead' (and donate their loved one's organs). People need to realise the need for more donations - it's very important.”
And this grieving mum has a plea for people who are not well to stay home and get better rather than push themselves on.