Jul 18, 2014

The Mountain of the Witch

 

I was distressed recently when vandals took to The Hill of Tara recently and threw paint over Lia Fáil, an iconic 5,000 year old standing stone. Sometimes referred to an The Stone of Destiny, it played a significant role in Shades of Atlantis. I can’t even contemplate what kind of a person would do such a thing. Certainly someone with no respect for the people of history of the island.

Picture from Independent.ie

Over the years I’ve spent quite a bit of time on The Hill of Tara. Although there’s been significant restoration and excavation, it’s a peaceful place. There are other places like Newgrange and Knowth, where folks have been maybe a little over enthusiastic in their attempts to establish their ideal of what these places were. They are stunning no doubt and soaked in heritage but have been altered in such a way it’s difficult to get a real sense of the rawness of the site. At Tara, the history seems to radiate from the very ground you walk on, despite this.

Another place where the rawness has been persevered is Loughcrew, Sliabh na Caillighe – The Mountain of the Witch, alternatively sometimes called The Hill of the Witch or The Mountain of The Hag is one of a collection of peaks in the hills of County Meath. Although in this case it’s with significant disruption to the site over the natural passage of time and land clearance during 19th century. It’s thought many internal stones and kerbstones were used in the building of walls nearby. The traces of quartz once there are gone. Quartz(sun stone) is not natural to the area and most likely came from Wicklow like the quartz at Newgrange.

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Like Tara, the energy of this site(Carnbane East) seems to radiate from somewhere below. Unlike Tara, I personally found it almost overpowering, and came away feeling unwell, although felt the views were worth it.

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There are traces of 25 passage tombs at Loughcrew over 4 peaks, although it’s thought there were as many as twice or three times that many once. We call them passage tombs, but the truth is we don’t really know if that’s what they were. We know from excavation that teeth and bones were found at thes2014-07-15 14.14.54e sites, although it’s possible these places also functioned at land markers, focal points for the people who built them, storage, ritual, and very possibly astrology since like other passage tombs, Loughcrew’s craved stones show symbols and formations thought to chart the skies or seasons. At the equinox, the sun lights the internal chamber of Cairn T(above and right) and travels across the internal carvings of the chamber. Another possibility given their location the the view across the 18 of the 32 counties of the island is that some of the wall carvings are early maps. 2014-07-15 14.03.41

 

 

 

 

 

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What we do know for certain is even 5,000 years ago and very likely longer, the builders at Loughcrew knew what they were about. The dome is corbaled. Slabs of stones are layered, each layer inching inward to form a dome. There is also a tilt to the stones, visible but not immediately obvious that allows for any liquid run off. Most are cruciform, three 

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Carnbane East is a steep climb up a grassy slope where sheep potter, not paying much attention to visitors. At the top, with good visibility, a good deal of the island is on display in every direction. This is Cairn V, looking in the direction of The Hill of Tara.

I approached the site with a sense of elation, somewhat expecting the same positive energy as Tara, or other sites I’ve visited. As I said above, this was not the case. At a couple of points during my time there I felt a mildly nauseated, which was easy enough to ignore. By leaving, I felt unwell. I’m not at all sure how to account for this, although it’s by no means a unique experience. The Loughcrew site, along with Knocknarea(Queen Maeve’s grave), Carrowmore, Tara, and the Hill of Howth sits on a ley line across Ireland. This is a mystical energy line. Many cultures subscribe to their existence and uses although it comes under some criticism as being new age nonsense. I’ve felt it, but I don’t claim to know what it is or why only some people do. I don’t think it’s a possibility that should put anyone off visiting.

Sliabh na Caillighe’s name can be attributed to The Cailleach. This is a female figure from Celtic folklore, Irish and Scottish. As a people, both Irish and Scottish have a rich history of storytelling and is an art form in itself. Verbal as it is, there will always be inconsistencies in the folklore. The Cailleach is a witch, a wise woman, a great beauty, or a hag, depending on the story and the location. Very possibly there was many more than one who claimed or was cured with the title, and many locations named in The Cailleach’s honour. Sliabh na Caillighe, Ceann Caillí(The hag’s head) at the Cliffs of Moher, Glen Cailleach in Pertshire, Scotland, and Beinn na Caillich on the Isle of Skye are just some.

I said cursed because The Cailleach was said to be a destroyer figure. That’s not to say evil. She was said to have described herself as ancient, was responsible for storms and for winter weather and often cut a lonely, disgruntled figure who was either regenerated or reborn on a regular basis, so that she outlived her husband. Although honoured and revered, perhaps more so from fear of her power than love, she was depicted at a crone, a villain. This left her envious of other women. She cried stones and left mountains and lakes in her wake as she crossed the landscape on her pony(alternatively a large dog). She was also capable of bringing life and fertility to land usually as her younger count2014-07-15 13.56.16erpart.

One story says she set out to carry stones in her skirts across Ireland. If she succeeded, she was to be rewarded with a great power. When she reached Loughcrew she left cairns on two peaks where her stones fell and dropped one stone on another peak. Outside Cairn T is a 6 foot kerbstone called ‘The Hag’s Chair’ or sometimes ‘The Witch’s Chair’. This is where the Cailleach sat and watched the night sky.

From here she leapt to the hill at Patrickstown where she fell down dead, either by accident or having failed her task.

Jul 1, 2014

Unbreakable by Elisa Dane - Review

Summary

Perception is everything to sixteen-year-old Olivia Brown. With her freakishly hot boyfriend, volunteer work at the local animal shelter, successful beauty channel on YouTube, and well-earned spot on X Factor Cheer's elite level five Diamond Girl team, Livvie's the girl every other girl wants to be. At least, that's the illusion she's aiming for.
But Livvie's seemingly perfect life is anything but. Lying about the bruises her boyfriend gives her, and cowering beneath his raging temper becomes a regular way of life until she unwittingly witnesses her drunken neighbor beating his step-son, the town bad boy, Reid Tate.
For Reid, vulnerability is the enemy. Opening up, and letting people in gives them the power to disappoint. Growing up with a co-dependent mother and an abusive alcoholic father, Reid has endured all the disappointment he can stomach.
But when his pretty, do-good neighbor witnesses his step-dad beat him to within an inch of his life, and not only call the cops, but keeps quiet at school about what she saw, Reid wonders if maybe, just maybe, he's found someone he can finally trust.

Review

This is the second book in a series, but it could absolutely be read as a stand alone without losing anything.

I knew going in that I’d enjoy it. I loved the first book in the series so much and from the summary, I expected this one to be equally as good. To be honest, it might have been even better. That’s saying something since I rated Ex-Factor as a 5 star read. I started Unbreakable in the evening and literally could not put it out of my hand until I was finished.

Almost from the first pages Unbreakable jumps right into the hard stuff, when Livvie’s is faced with witnessing the violent domestic abuse in house next door. The opening was harrowing.

Sadly, even this doesn’t make Livvie see the simmering dysfunction in her own relationship. Like most victims of abuse, Livvie is being so slowly stripped of her identity and self-worth she doesn’t see it coming when things step up a notch, but Reid Tate, the bad boy next door, does. He’s spent his life up close with an abuser and when he and Livvie are throw together on a school assignment, he wastes no time in telling her so. But is he already too late to help her, and has she left it too late to become the friend to the little boy she saw through the fence on moving day years before?

The author knows her stuff when it comes to cheer and teen girls. It’s easy to see she has plenty of experience with both. She doesn’t shy away from the reality, temptations, and dangers of highschool. Livvie is a nice girl, maybe too nice, because she got in over her head. I was glad to see some of her spirit return, even if she still didn’t recognize how much danger she was in.

This isn’t necessarily a bad boy comes to the rescue story. Reid Tate has so much more to him. There are all sorts of heroes in this book, from the single mom doing her best, the best friend who tries to talk sense, to the girl who finally made the call for someone who couldn’t. I saw a different strength in all of them.

Seriously, you need this book. I can’t wait for more from the diamond girls.

Jun 28, 2014

Ex-Factor Blog Tour

Ex-Factor-Elisa-Dane

I finished the second in this series, UNBREAKABLE, a couple of days ago. Read it in one sitting and couldn’t put it out of my hands. I’ll be posting a full review in the near future. You can check out my review of Ex-Factor here. This book series is one you will not want to miss.

But for today I have an excerpt and a giveaway to present to you.

Summary  

Nevaeh Evan’s life is uprooted after her father’s death, when she moves in with her aunt and cousin, Livvie. Her plan to lay low at her new high school isn’t working. Her friend’s jerky boyfriend keeps asking her out, the guy she likes treats her like garbage, and the thought of tumbling again makes her want to hurl.
So when her aunt pushes her into joining the elite X-FACTOR cheer leading squad, Navaeh goes along with it.
But Nev feels she doesn’t deserve to be happy. Not after what happened the night her father died.
Bodie Scott knows about grief all too well. Critically injured in an alcohol related accident the year before, Bodie struggles with the fact that he’ll never play football again, and he’s so far behind in credits he can’t see straight. That is, until he meets Nev. Haunted by their bloody pasts and wary of a shared future, Nev and Bodie turn to one another for comfort and support, and realize they’re not so alone after all. And when the party scene at school threatens the life of a loved one, the two stop at nothing to keep the past from repeating itself.

Excerpt

“Ahh... Mr. Scott!” My gaze automatically swept to the front of the classroom, Keltar’s loud, obnoxious voice almost impossible to ignore. “So good of you to grace us with your presence today. I trust you’ve learned something during your time away from school? Violence is never the answer, young man.” Frowning, the surly Santa wannabe begrudgingly swept a pink slip of paper from a tall, muscular boy dressed in dark clothing.

My heart jumped a little in my chest as I surveyed the colossal mass of male student at the front of the class. What the hell were the people of Indigo Falls feeding their sons? Some type of über growth hormone? Over half the guys in the school looked as though they belonged on the cover of a weightlifting magazine—chiseled, as if cut from granite. And what was that about violence, and time away from school? Had he gotten into a fight? From his size, he looked like someone who could deliver massive amounts of pain with ease.

The new guy stood in complete silence as Keltar continued on, delivering the same tired speech he’d given me upon entering the room. The same nervous feeling that had plagued me when I entered the school just a short time ago returned with a vengeance, and I caught myself struggling to breathe. What the hell? The new guy, whoever he was, had a bizarre effect on me, and to be honest, it was freaking me out a little. I mean, hell... I hadn’t even seen his face and I had butterflies whirling in my stomach. How was that possible? What kind of person had that type of effect on people?

He turned around then, and the answers to my unspoken questions all but slapped me upside the face.

Holy Mary, Mother of Pearl...

If boys were classified into two shades: light and dark, my Paper Thief, Eli would hover somewhere in the realm of ivory or beige. But this new guy was dark. We’re talking black down to the very pit of his soul type dark.

Ebony eyes void of emotion swept over the room before finally settling on his seat: the empty chair next to Erin. Short, dark hair hugged his skull, bringing attention to the chiseled line of his jaw. His features were strong, hard, and entirely masculine—beautiful. No joke, he looked like an avenging angel hell bent on mayhem and destruction. Bad. The boy was bad to the bone.

Heat scorched my neck and cheeks and my pulse ratcheted up another notch.

Electricity arced through the air as he neared the table, and the oxygen in the room seemed to thin even more. Incapable of speech or movement, I sat open-mouthed, gaping at him like an imbecilic fool. The black T-shirt he wore stretched across his broad chest like a second skin, and revealed a set of arms, one of which sported a wicked tribal tattoo. His gait was confident, yet lazy, and clearly shouted “I don’t give a fuck. I’m only here because I have to be, so stay the hell out of my way.”

Erin cleared her throat and cast me a knowing “Well, well, well. Look who thinks the bad boy is hot” smirk.

The boy’s most stand out feature was a jagged scar which ran from the center of his skull, down along the top of his left ear. It ended just below the left half of his jaw. The skin was thick, raised and silvery pink making it obvious that whatever trauma had placed it there hadn’t happened that long ago.

Heat scored the base of my skull, and I reached, as if on autopilot, for the fat, rigid bump that crawled across my hairline. How had he gotten his scar? A hundred different scenarios played out in my head, none of which included the circumstance that had earned me mine.

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About the author

I'm a lover of books (YA & Adult romance), chocolate, reality television, and am a proud mother to three All Star cheerleaders. Woot!

I write Contemporary YA romance with cheerleaders. Yep. I write what I know, and it's my hope that my stories will not only take you on a romantic journey that will warm your heart, but that you'll find a new respect and interest in the sport of Cheerleading you may not have had before.

Links: 

Twitter: @elisadane

Instagram: authorelisadane

FB: https://www.facebook.com/ElisaDane

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/LisaSanchez3

Website: http://www.elisadane.com

Jun 27, 2014

The Haunting of Highdown Hall - Review

 

Summary

"Good morning, Psychic Surveys. How can I help?"
The latest in a long line of psychically-gifted females, Ruby Davis can see through the veil that separates this world and the next, helping grounded souls to move towards the light - or 'home' as Ruby calls it. Not just a job for Ruby, it's a crusade and one she wants to bring to the High Street. Psychic Surveys is born.
Based in Lewes, East Sussex, Ruby and her team of freelance psychics have been kept busy of late. Specialising in domestic cases, their solid reputation is spreading - it's not just the dead that can rest in peace but the living too. All is threatened when Ruby receives a call from the irate new owner of Highdown Hall. Film star Cynthia Hart is still in residence, despite having died in 1958.
Winter deepens and so does the mystery surrounding Cynthia. She insists the devil is blocking her path to the light long after Psychic Surveys have 'disproved' it. Investigating her apparently unblemished background, Ruby is pulled further and further into Cynthia's world and the darkness that now inhabits it.
For the first time in her career, Ruby's deepest beliefs are challenged. Does evil truly exist? And if so, is it the most relentless force of all?

Review

I finished this a few weeks back and took a few days to think about my review. I was sick when reading so felt quite low and sorry for myself. I wanted to wait so I’d know that didn’t color my opinion. The first thing I want to say is don’t you love the cover? It immediately sets up the atmosphere going in. The next thing is that this is a very well written book. The prose, cast of characters, and plot line were all extremely well worked out, with just the right amount of description to sink into every location. This book would make a fabulous movie. I’m not at all surprised THoHH is grabbing rave reviews and climbing the charts.

It wasn’t a completely smooth ride for me. Like Ruby, I found my beliefs challenged on several occasions. If asked I would classify myself as an atheist, although it’s more complicated than that. I believe in a multi-verse and the idea of existence on several levels, that when a person dies, their energy is released. Essentially, I do believe in the spirit world, so much of the story spoke to me in a logical sense. I didn’t think it at all strange that these people ran a company that helped spirits move on, or that places absorbed and held onto residual energy.

I did struggle with the good verses evil part. I struggled with the idea presented in the book that there is no retribution for sins as such, even sins not atoned for in life, only love. I didn’t like it. It’s went against what I absolutely hope to be true and I found myself disliking Ruby’s grandmother, who I am sure was meant to be a sympatric character. Without spoiling, I was angry when another character’s sins were more of less swept under the carpet because he was old. His actions were heinous at best, in my opinion. The idea of his finding no judgement and the acts of small kindness shown to him was genuinely repugnant to me and I felt entirely undeserved.

On going through other reviews, this didn’t seem to be something that bothered other readers, so I’m well aware this was a personal view and reflective of me, not the book. On the contrary, the extreme emotion elicited showed exactly how well this book was written and how deeply involved I was with the storyline and characters. I was completely sucked in. 

I was talking to my kindle through most of it, either annoyed or so touched. Particularly, one young spirit caused me to shed a lot of tears.

This was a wild ride of twists and turns, all sailing toward a chilling climatic confrontation and revelations in the final chapters. I am looking forward to the next in the series and revisiting with the cast. I give this a solid 4 stars.

About Shani Struthers

An avid reader, I'll wade through pretty much anything but hot favourites right now are romance, horror (not gory though, more supernatural) and contemporary. Am discovering some wonderful books through Goodreads and writing circles on Facebook - haven't had to pop into Waterstones for ages! I'm also the author of The Runaway Year, published by Omnific Publishing - a contemporary Cornish romance with a healthy dash of sass. Later this year my second novel will be available - a paranormal mystery this time. Psychic Surveys Book 1: The Haunting of Highdown Hall will be published by Crooked Cat Publishing and is the first in a series which will only get darker.
Read all about it on my website or on my blog. I'm also on twitter: https://twitter.com/shani_struthers and Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shani-S....

Jun 2, 2014

What I Do and Why I Do It

 

I’ve been set a challenge by Rumer Haven to answer four questions about writing. Rumer is about to dive in to first round of edits on her upcoming release, Seven for a Secret. You must visit her website! It’s wonderful! Immediately feel submerged into the former hotel from the 20’s and learn more about this romantic ghost story. 

You can read Rumer’s answers to these questions over on her blog. So, let’s move along, shall we?

What am I working on?

As usual I’ve got more than one project on the go. The main piece of work is revisions on an upcoming stand alone called Something Wicked. This is not an YA book. It’s quite a dark story set between Ireland and England in the 19th, 20th, and 21st century. Think Jack the Ripper was a vampire and he might be the key to saving humanity.

It’s under contract but before we jump into editing, I’ve been asked to expand some parts. This involves more research, since I’ve tried to keep it as historically accurate as I can while weaving in the supernatural elements.

The thing about researching Jack is that he scares me. That entire period of history scares me. It involves reading crime scene reports and personal accounts, looking at pictures of the victims and immersing myself into their last moments. These were real people who died horribly. But I also feel to do the story I’m telling justice, I need to. It’s like the writer’s line about rules – You need to know the rules to know how to break them. I need to know the Ripper story to know how to rewrite it.

As usual I’ve managed to tie some celtic mythology. Sure don’t I sneak some into every story? Smile Which brings me onto my other project. Atlantis Rising, the third and final book set in the world of The Guardians. Atlantis Rising is Emma’s book and I’m adding bits and pieces as they come to me while I finish up with Something Wicked.

How does my writing differ from others of its genre?

I’m not sure there is any huge difference. I feel if it was too different it wouldn’t be suitable for the selected genre. In my case that would be Paranormal Romance. Obviously, all my work has my own flavour to it. I like to add at least a little celtic touch to everything. I vary the romantic element. I’ve written love at first sight, dislike developing to love, past life love, and love that matures through friendship. Whatever way it comes, it’s never easy.

Why do I write what I do?

I don’t like to limit myself, which is why a fixed platform for me has always been difficult to pin down. I write what I feel like writing, which is why the age range varies. I’m not a YA writer, I’m just a writer. I write paranormal stories because I get enough of real life in the real world. When I step through the doorway to another world, I don’t want to step into another world identical to the one I live in. I want it filled with good defeating evil, people getting their deserved ending, magic, adventure, and curious creatures. Writing is my escape.

How does my writing process work?

I write every story in full with a pen and paper. I start with scribbling notes and lines. Then scenes, but not necessarily in the right order. I go back and forth through the storyline until I have a complete story. That is my first draft. I rewrite the entire thing as I’m typing it up and from there it’s the usual. Write, revise, write, revise, edit, revise. Over and over until it’s done.

Time for Tag, You’re It! 

Joshua David Bellin

Survival Colony Nine

Katie O'Sullivan

Blood of a Mermaid

Son of a Mermaid

Wendy S. Russo

January Black

Dorothy Dreyer

My Sister’s Reaper

My Tethered Soul

May 30, 2014

My Mum and the St Jude Silzone Heart Valve

 

Those of you who know me or read this blog will have heard me mention my mum and that she passed when my boy was small. Those of you who know me well may have heard me mention that she had heart valve surgery not long before she died, or that there is a complicated backstory around her death. Over the years I have become increasing frustrated with this subject and today I’m taking the step to explain what I can. It’s long and I hope you stick with me.

2014 sees the 15th anniversary of my mother's passing. She was 55 years old and had 6 children. My youngest brother was 14 when she died. My sister first came into the care of my mum and dad at 1 year old through the foster care system. At the time of her death she was grandmother to 5 grandchilden, 3 by my sister, 1 by my brother, and my son who was diagnosed with an intellectual disability and autism only weeks before. She was also carer to countless others kids. It wasn't unusual for our garden to be filled with children playing or for my older brothers to bring home their friends for plates of egg and chips. One older teen stayed for six months after trouble at home.

Before I was born she was a hairdresser and owned her own business. I was spoiled and didn’t have to do chores around the house(although I eventually did without being asked). My brother, who did have to, told me she said there would be expectation of that as a woman when I grew up. She didn't see the need for car gears other than 2nd and 3rd. She loved the sun and had a holiday booked for Portugal when she died. She was the life of any party, and people loved being in her company. A spice rack on our kitchen wall reads "Feeding the Multitudes by Evelyn Oates" and was made by the father of two of the kids she minded. It was a nod to her many words of wisdom, her enormous dinners, the mounds of Sunday baking, the many who ate at her table including students and lecturers from All Hollows College in Drumcondra while it was still a seminary.

At her funeral, the local priest commented he had never seen a gathering of so many young people for the passing of an adult. The church holds hundreds and yet there were people out the door. Among the cards and messages were notes from people she had helped over the years, many of whom were not known to the family. What I've given you there isn't even a scrap of the person. She didn't boast of her goodness. She was just good.

She was immensely proud of her children, but didn't get to see her youngest graduate school and then college, or see me publish my first book, which was dedicated to her. She didn't get to meet her other grandchildren or my sister's first grandchild.

I remember the day I knew she was sick. She walked a lot and this one day we were walking from the city. We came to a small hill, barely more than a slope and she couldn't walk over it without resting.  I tell you all this because when reading the following, I want you to see her as a person, not a statistic.

She died the end of July, 1999. 8 days after a check up said all was fine and 5 months after heart surgery in February of the same year to replace the mitral heart valve with a St Jude Medical Silzone Heart Valve. In plain language she suffered a blood clotting of the valve. Clots can sometimes happens in a small minority of any valve replacement.

It was suggested by the consultant in a meeting with my brother and father that in this instance, it was perhaps a production fault(using a car as an example, 1 in 20,000 coming off production) or a course of antibiotics interfered with the anti-coagulant drugs.

Her doctor confirmed that she had not been on antibiotics and at the beginning of 2000, St Jude Medical indicated by email that the production fault was not to blame. At the time, St Jude Medical also indicated they encourage hospitals to report incidents involving the valve but could not be held responsible for procedures or lack thereof for hospitals and governments reporting them. An email also indicates the study that prompted the recall(below) showed no increased clotting.

Introduced in 1997, the St Jude Silzone was similar to previous models but with a silzone coating on the sewing cuff. FDA approved the silzone-coated valve in 1998 on the basis they weren't marketed as having less risk of endocarditis, simply because testing had not been conducted yet to show this. It’s alleged it was introduced to the European market in 1997 with virtually no clinical testing(60 patients and 5 sheep, one of which died and was removed from the study but found to have a large blood clot on it’s lung).

Also in 1997 the Cardiff Embolic Risk Factor Study, began including Silzone patients in the trial. Less than Two year later the doctor in charge reported to the British agency that regulates medical devices. While 1 of the 115 patients with the conventional valve suffered clots, 7 of 51 Silzone patients in the study had suffered strokes, and 5 more were suspected.

From Eric Butchart, Surgeon(CERFS): “In my opinion the large differences in thromboembolism are clinically significant and the incidence of thromboembolism after mitral valve replacement is so high that the Silzone valve would almost certainly not have received FDA approval if these figures had been submitted in pursuit of approval of a new prosthesis."

St Jude Medical received Butchart’s report in late 1998 and investigated it in conjunction with UK and US regulatory agencies. However, because the findings were found to be different to the larger AVERT trial, they were set aside.

The British government issued a warning at the end of 1999.

Meanwhile, A lady in Northern Ireland died in July, 1998, of “Thrombotic occlusion of St Jude's medical Prosthetic mitral heart valve - Silzone coated”. A blood clot. Her husband later pursued through the courts.

The Artificial Valve Endocarditis Reduction Trial (AVERT) began in 1998(estimated conclusion was to be 2014),

A DSMB meeting held April, 1999 in response to concerns that the Silzone valves showed higher thromboembolic event rates at one U.K. centre. It was considered not statistically significant enough to halt the study and was appropriate to continue patient enrolment. Another meeting in November of the same year came to the same conclusion.

The study was eventually halted because the increased risk of paravalvular leakage became apparent. A random cross section of patients from America and Europe showed of 403 patients given silzone valves, 18 suffered leakage verses 4 of the 404 patients without silzone valves.

The valve was officially withdrawn in 2000 by St Jude Medical, citing  AVERT. Approximately 36,000 of these valves were implanted.

Although initially my father was informed that my mother did not receive a silzone valve. This was confirmed by obtaining medical records with the valve serial number and contacting St Jude Medical.

This is a transcript of an article published in THE EXAMINER, Ireland in April 2000.

Husband wants to know the truth of wife's death

“The devastated widow of a woman who died after receiving a possibly defective heart valve last night appealed to Health Minister Micheal Martin to investigate the cause of her death.
St Jude Medical, a US company, recalled a batch of silzone-coated heart valves last November when a small minority of them appeared to be defective. The company warned patients who had been fitted with heart valves to have a check-up.
It has now emerged that 20 Irish patients who received this silzone-coated valve died before they could be tested.
Dubliner Evelyn Oates died last July before the warning was issued. Her husband Thomas has now received confirmation from St Jude Medical that she was fitted with a valve from the suspicious batch, but they could not confirm whether the valve she received was defective.
Mr Oates is now calling on Minister Martin to launch an investigation.
"I am not looking for compensation just to know if my wife, Evelyn, was given one of these recalled valves," he said.
National Cardiac Surgical Unit Director, Maurice Neligan, who oversaw the re-examination of patients fitted with the suspicious batch, confirmed that 213 Irish patients were fitted with the valves in the past two years.
But only 193 were alive when the US company withdrew the batch. Me Neligan stressed that none of these 20 deaths were as a result of a leaking valve - many patients died during surgery.
And the 193 patients who came back for a check-up did not have any problems that merited further surgery, Mr Neligan said.
Mr Oates lost his wife last July when she died following heart surgery.
That was the official cause of  death in the coroner's report, which also stated that this is a well recognised complication of heart valve surgery, and in no way implies a defect in the valve.
But when Mr Oates first read about the recall of the silzone valves in The Examiner, he immediately checked his wife's medical records to see which one she had received.
After months of trying to secure her medical records he got the number and type of valve she received. And St Jude's Mechanical Heart Valves Marketing Manager, Tina King, confirmed that particular serial number was in fact one of the batch of silzone valves that had been recalled.
And now Mr Oates wants Minister Martin to investigate the true cause of his wife's death, because US company, St Jude Medical is only answerable to the American Food and Drug Administration.
A spokesman for Minister Martin could not be reached when going to press.”

Needless to say, we never heard from Minister Martin, now leader of his political party. A later article from another paper stated no one in Ireland had died as a result of these silzone valves being used here.

In 2010, insurers covering St Jude Medical attempted to remove responsibility for paying out on claims, but courts found in favor of St Jude Medical.

In 2012, the Independent Newspaper reported a Dublin man is a key claimant in a US class action suit against St Jude Medical concerning a allegedly defective artificial heart valve. The article was titled EU 'guiea pigs' in heart valve compensation claim. The article goes on to say: “St Jude Medical used Europe as a testing ground for its Silzone valves and labelled the continent the "guinea pig" area, solicitors Leigh, Day and Co, representing the claimants, said yesterday.”

Also in 2012,  in Canadian court, a class action found that St Jude Medical didn't know that there were issues with this valves and so concluded St Jude Medical was not negligent. In 2013, on appeal, an agreement of monetary compensation without liability was reached.

Cases are still on-going in the US.

In conclusion, I’m not stupid. I know there is absolutely nothing that can bring my mum back. But am I bitter about it? Heck yeah. I am bitter that her death might have been prevented, that she didn’t understand the valve was new and virtually untested. That the increased risk of thrombosis wasn’t considered statically significant in the April before she died. That when she died in 1999, no one mentioned on going studies suggested any increased risk, that we found out how we did through a newspaper article. I’m bitter that my brother had to track down the information on the valve she received.

I’m bitter because almost 15 years later, my family still has no real closure. Because of that my family will never get over this. This has broken all our hearts.

Mostly, I’m bitter that her death is given no credence in any discussion of these valves because it’s not considered to be associated with the specific valve she received. All my family wanted was answers and instead hit roadblocks.

May 18, 2014

Cover Reveal -The Devil Made Me Do it

 

The Devil made me do it preview 1

The Devil Made Me Do It

Book Two: Speak of the Devil series

 

Coming July 1 - Go to hell!

Lily is working with the angels to stifle the last of the demon outbreaks and to figure out how to stop the Silence of God, so life can get back to boring normality. But all hell breaks loose when she’s stolen from school and brought face to face with the devil himself. Lily has to find her way back home to Luc, crack the prophecy that breaks the curse silencing God, and figure out how she and Luc can ever really be together; but Lucifer has other plans for her that don’t include her ever getting out of Hell in tact.

About the Author

Shawna Romkey, teacher by day, writer by night (or day or whenever anyone leaves her alone long enough to get some work done). Bestselling YA / NA paranormal author of Speak of the Devil. The second in the series, The Devil Made Me Do It, will release July 1.

Shawna is from Kansas City, Missouri, but resides in Nova Scotia in a house by the sea with her husband, two sons, and currently two dogs but that’s subject to change depending on the local homeless dog population.

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