Fin­gers crossed as NHS f lies Is­abel to UK for life-sav­ing op

Irish Daily Mail - - News - By Neil Michael and Olivia Kelle­her neil.michael@dai­ly­

SHE has en­dured sev­eral heart­break­ing ‘false dawns’, and has been shame­fully let down by our health ser­vice, but Is­abel Terry’s 14-year wait for a life-sav­ing trans­plant may now be over.

Is­abel is one of the only peo­ple in Ire­land wait­ing for a dou­ble lung and heart trans­plant. Last night she flew to the UK for a po­ten­tially life­sav­ing op­er­a­tion.

And, in a move that puts our HSE to shame, it took Bri­tain’s health ser­vice to step in and fly her over to in New­cas­tle’s Royal Free­man Hos­pi­tal for the op­er­a­tion.

The NHS yes­ter­day ar­ranged for a spe­cially char­tered pri­vate jet to fly Is­abel over for the trans­plant, which was due to take place around 2am this morn­ing.

The de­ci­sion to send a jet fol­lows the as­ton­ish­ing sit­u­a­tion last month when the HSE re­fused to fly Is­abel over for a pre-op­er­a­tive meet­ing at the Free­man.

In­stead, it agreed to pay for her ferry fare and left her to ar­range what would have been a gru­elling 30-hour round-trip jour­ney by land and sea to New­cas­tle.

But at the last minute, a mys­tery busi­ness­man paid for a pri­vate

Of­fered to pay for ferry fare

air am­bu­lance to take Is­abel, who needs a con­stant sup­ply of oxy­gen, to New­cas­tle for the meet­ing in­stead.

To avoid any com­pli­ca­tions this time, the Free­man booked a plane to bring her over to them. It is un­clear if the HSE will be asked to re­im­burse this cost.

Yes­ter­day, Is­abel re­ceived a call from her trans­plant team at the hos­pi­tal, telling her that a set of lungs and a heart had be­come avail­able.

It is the sixth time that the 41year-old has had such a call in the past 14 years – the length of time she has been wait­ing for a trans­plant. On pre­vi­ous oc­ca­sions, the or­gans were found to be un­suit­able.

The last time the Cork woman was called by her UK trans­plant team with three po­ten­tial or­gans – about five years ago – the op­er­a­tion was can­celled as she was about to take off from Cork Air­port. This time around, al­though the plane was about an hour late, she was still on course to un­dergo the op­er­a­tion as planned.

Is­abel told the Mail just be­fore she boarded the flight that she was, nat­u­rally, feel­ing ner­vous.

‘I am okay,’ she said. ‘I am a lit­tle ner­vous. I won’t know un­til very late whether it will be go­ing ahead or not, and, if it does go ahead and they suit me, the or­gans will be trans­planted straight away.’

Is­abel trav­elled to the UK with her mother Deirdre. She was then taken from the air­port to the hos­pi­tal and be­tween 9pm and 10pm last night, the or­gans were due to be re­trieved. By about 11pm, she was due to be told if they were suit­able.

If they are, the op­er­a­tion to trans­plant the or­gans would take 12-14 hours. Re­cov­ery time is es­ti­mated to be a month.

Is­abel’s sis­ter Julie, who was fly­ing over to New­cas­tle this morn­ing from Dublin, went with her to the air­port yes­ter­day.

She said: ‘She is ner­vous but at the same time, she has waited for this day for about 14 years and she has had five false alarms al­ready. So, you have that at the back of your mind.

‘We are hop­ing, with fin­gers crossed, that this is go­ing to go ahead. She was in good form. There were lots of friends call­ing in the morn­ing to the house. She was very up­beat with friends who called to wish her well.

‘There is noth­ing straight­for­ward about this and, be­cause of all the scar tis­sue from pre­vi­ous op­er­a­tions, it is quite a com­plex case.

‘She’s get­ting or­gans that might have suited three peo­ple. So un­less they are very, very sure that this is go­ing to work, they are not go­ing to waste the or­gans but, hope­fully, this is the one that will go ahead.’ Her brother Peter added that their late fa­ther Oliver, who died in 2008, would have loved to have been around for this mo­ment.

‘He would have been over the moon and de­lighted for her to have this chance,’ he said.

Is­abel, who has had three open­heart surg­eries, was born with pul­monary atre­sia, which is a birth de­fect of the pul­monary valve that af­fects the flow of blood from the heart to the lungs.

She has been rushed to hos­pi­tal a num­ber of times, ready for trans­plants. In one case, while she was in the Mater Hos­pi­tal, she was ac­tu­ally on the op­er­at­ing ta­ble when the trans­plant was called off.

Flight of hope: Is­abel Terry, right, flew to the UK by char­tered jet with her mother Deirdre

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