A YOUNG woman has died from a blood clot days after falling from a horse and hurting her knee on a family holiday.
Charity fundraiser Louise Carolan, 26, had suffered what was thought to be a minor injury while horse-riding in Turkey and was told by doctors she had simply torn some ligaments.
But five days after the accident, having returned home to Edinburgh, she collapsed while shopping and was rushed to hospital. She lay desperately ill in intensive care before losing her fight for life.
Her soldier brother, Graeme, was rushed back from the front line in Helmand to be by her side and, in an additional concern for the family, the wing flaps failed on the RAF TriStar bringing him home and the pilot was forced to circle Edinburgh Airport repeatedly to burn off fuel in order to land safely.
Ms Carolan’s parents, Gary and Christine, today paid tribute to their “loving and giving” daughter, who worked as a fundraiser for St Columba’s Hospice.
Well loved throughout the family’s neighbourhood in Bughtlin as an enthusiastic babysitter, her greatest devotion was to her pet rabbit, Buster, who would follow her around the house – so much so that during the ten years he was alive, she refused to go on family holidays because she didn’t want to leave him.
It was only after Buster’s recent death that she finally agreed to go away with her parents on holiday to Turkey in August, where that same love of animals led her to take a horse-riding trip.
Her father said: “She took a fall from the horse and hurt her knee. She was hobbling around for a couple of days and when we got home I took her to the A&E department at the Western General, where they said she had torn ligaments and to strap it up and use Ibuprofen.
“On the Sunday, we got a phone call when she was shopping with her friend at the Gyle. She had collapsed and the paramedics said they didn’t like the sound of her heart.”
Her parents dashed to the Western General, thinking their daughter might have picked up a bug on holiday, but the news was worse than they could have anticipated.
Mr Carolan said: “When they got to the Western they found a blood clot on her lung, induced by the fall, and this caused a cardiac arrest.
“When they came into the room and told us to expect the worst it was a phenomenal shock. They asked us to come and say our goodbyes.
“There were nine doctors around her doing CPR. They detected a pulse and took her up to the ICU, where she was on a ventilator.”
The army was informed and arranged for her brother to return immediately from the front line in Afghanistan, where he was serving with 4 SCOTS.
The family stayed with Louise night and day, talking and recalling family jokes at her bedside in the hope of bringing her round. They were told she might have suffered brain damage because of the lack of oxygen to her brain.
After 72 hours with no response from Louise, doctors carried out a brain scan and broke the news to the family that there was nothing more they could do for her.
After enduring a terrible night knowing what was to come, they returned to her bedside for a final time on September 9.
Mr Carolan said: “They told us that, once the machine was switched off, she would either go very quickly or it would take hours. In this family we have something called ‘Louise time’ – she had no concept of time and punctuality. It’s a bit of dark humour but we thought ‘this is going to take hours’, but she passed away very quickly.”
The family say they have been overwhelmed by the number of people who have got in touch to express their sadness. Every surface of their home is covered in condolence cards and bouquets.
Among those expressing their condolences are staff at St Columba’s Hospice, where the former Royal High pupil had worked for just over a year.
Senior fundraising manager Mairi Rosko said she had befriended a huge number of people at the hospice in Granton. She said: “We shared an office, and we got lots and lots done, but we just had so much fun doing it.
“There were volunteers coming down and saying how sorry they were and I was thinking, ‘I barely know you’, but she knew them all. She was great with the volunteers, she was great with the patients and she was great with their families.
“She was one of the most thoughtful people I’ve ever met. We’re just reeling from the loss.”
Her mother said: “The whole neighbourhood’s going to miss her for pet-sitting and baby-sitting. There are a couple of youngsters and she would take them to get their nails done and down the shops. She was also a bit of a mentor to her younger cousin, Craig. She took him to East Links Farm recently and they had a fantastic time.
“Even on holiday she was the same – she made lots of friends her own age, she organised a pool tournament at the apartments, she just loved people being together.
“She just had a sort of magnetism for animals and kids. She could communicate on all levels, she knew how to speak to them.”
She added: “You know that poem about Monday’s Child? Well, Louise was born on a Friday and she passed away on a Friday, and it’s ‘Friday’s child is loving and giving’. That just coins it.”