‘Jimmy was left brain-dead. He passed away in my arms’

Jimmy Guichard died within hours of buying a three euro bag of legal highs from a shop in England.
Jimmy Guichard died within hours of buying a three euro bag of legal highs from a shop in England.

Karen Audino from Letterkenny lost her 20-year-old son Jimmy Guichard after he took a horrific reaction to a bag of so called ‘legal cannabis’ purchased in a head shop in England.

She addressed the United Communities Against Drugs conference one year to the very day last year when she had to travel to England to say goodbye and switch off her son’s life support machine.

Jimmy Guichard

Jimmy Guichard

“Today is really hard for me,” she said. “Today is the first anniversary of us losing Jimmy. At 11 o’clock tonight it will be a year to that moment that I had to switch off the life-support machine and he passed away in my arms. Jimmy took herbal cannabis. He bought that in a headshop in Chatham and it cost him £3.

“He went back to his dad’s house, started fixing his friends bike, smoking away at this stuff.

“It caused him to have a massive heart attack, his blood pressure rose up so high and so fast his heart couldn’t cope.

“We don’t know how long he was unconscious for. His dad came home and found him.

“The ambulance was called. During the journey to the hospital and while in the resus getting checked out Jimmy was conscious and he was talking but his brain began to swell, putting pressure on his brain stem, and that left Jimmy brain dead.

“I got a phonecall to say he was brain dead. I didn’t understand what brain dead meant. I was working out in my head, what I was going to do, how I was going to bring this brain damaged child of mine home.

“The nurse had to explain this to me and ask me how soon I could get out there to switch off my son’s life support machine.

“Samantha {Karen’s daughter and Jimmy’s sister} and I took that boat and three trains journey. The journey took 18 hours. My passport had expired.

“We got to the hospital at 8pm that night and spent three hours with Jimmy, talking to him, hugging him, kissing him.

“I don’t want any mum to go through this. The government needs to look at changing the legislation here in NI and over in the UK to get these laws changed so this won’t happen to another family.”