'He was so happy': Paramedics grant dying man's final wish for ice cream

Published Sept. 5, 2018 8:24 a.m. ET
Updated Sept. 9, 2018 3:22 p.m. ET
Ice cream sundae man

Two Australian paramedics are being praised for their kindness after they granted a terminally ill man’s final wish to eat a caramel sundae as he rode in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.

In a post shared on Facebook on Tuesday, the Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) described how their paramedics Hanna Hoswell and Kate Hanafy responded to a call in the Gold Coast last week.

As they were loading Ron McCartney, 72, into the ambulance to transport him to the hospital’s palliative care unit, Hoswell said his wife Sharon mentioned that he hadn’t eaten anything in the past two days. The paramedics asked McCartney if he could eat anything right now, what would it be?

“He said straight away without any hesitation ‘a caramel sundae,’” Hoswell told CTVNews.ca in phone interview from the Gold Coast.

After receiving permission from their boss, Hoswell and Hanafy purchased a sundae for McCartney at a McDonald’s on the way to the hospital.

“He was really happy,” Hoswell recounted. “It’s just something so small, you’re getting an ice cream for someone, but they haven’t been able to leave their house or do anything for themselves for the past few days so something as small as that has a massive impact on them.”

Hoswell said McCartney finished eating the treat while he was riding in the ambulance.

“I think he said, ‘bloody great’ and then licked the spoon,” she said with a laugh.

In a photo accompanying the QAS’ Facebook post, McCartney can be seen sitting on a stretcher in the ambulance enjoying a caramel sundae the paramedics obtained for him.

It would be McCartney’s final journey to the hospital following a 17-year battle with prostate cancer. He died on Saturday morning, according to a Facebook update by his daughter Danielle Smith.

“Well the day has come, that we have said our final good-byes,” she wrote. “My dad was one spectacular human being. My heart is absolutely shattered right now… I love you Dad forever and a day.”

Following his death, McCartney’s wife thanked the QAS for the kindness they showed her husband in those final moments.

“Sharon’s recent message emphasized the enjoyment Ron received from such a simple action and thanked paramedics for the swift and high level of care and compassion shown to him on both this occasion, and their previous interactions over the last few months as well,” the QAS said in the post.

Smith also expressed her gratitude towards the paramedics in a comment she shared on the QAS’ initial post.

“Thank you so very much to Hanna and Kate, Dad enjoyed this so much and was the last thing he was able to eat by himself,” she said. “Mum and I cannot thank QAS enough for all the help and compassion you have all given towards us each time we have had to call you.”

Hoswell said she was grateful to McCartney’s family for sending the message of thanks.

“It’s a really difficult, really demanding job in terms of the hours and the physical work you put into it as well as the emotional so it’s really lovely to have a family go out of their way to express their gratitude to us,” she said.

The ambulance service said they shared the story to remind people why paramedics do what they do.

“We have been left humbled and tinged with sadness after receiving a message of gratitude that underlines an often-unseen aspect of patient care; the caring,” the QAS said.

The post has received more than 15,000 reactions and has been shared nearly three thousand times since it was uploaded on Tuesday.

“I cannot believe it dad, you stubborn ass, still hanging around,” Smith joked in a Facebook update on Tuesday evening. “How much that one message to QAS, Mum just to say thank you, and its [sic] goes viral. I can't stop reading the hundreds of comments. My heart is aching even more with how much I can see your story Dad is touching everyone [sic] hearts.”

Hoswell said the paramedics have received a lot of messages from other healthcare workers all over the world thanking them for the gesture.

“The response has been totally unpredicted,” she said. “We never would have thought buying an ice cream a couple of days ago for a patient would have resulted in this.”

If you could eat anything, what would it be? We have been left humbled and tinged with sadness after receiving a...

Posted by Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) on Monday, September 3, 2018  

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