Is­abel jets out in hope af­ter long-awaited trans­plant call

Irish Examiner - - News - Eoin English

She’s been wait­ing 15-years for the phone call that could trans­form her life.

It fi­nally came at 10.30am yes­ter­day.

Is­abel Terry, one of Ire­land’s long­est wait­ing heart and dou­ble lung trans­plant pa­tients, jet­ted out on a spe­cial medical flight from Cork Air­port bound for the UK with her mother, Deirdre, and part­ner Philip, by her side.

It fol­lows that lon­gawaited call from the trans­plant co­or­di­na­tion team at New­cas­tle’s Free­man Hos­pi­tal that a match for all three or­gans had been found.

“The phone rang and they said: ‘Is­abel, how do you fancy com­ing to New­cas­tle?’. They said it’s a match for all three or­gans but it’s a match on pa­per at this stage. The sur­geon will still have to make the fi­nal call about whether to go ahead, so I’m trav­el­ling with hope,” she said.

“I’m just a bit ner­vous, but I’m feel­ing good about it. I’m go­ing in pos­i­tive.”

Is­abel, 41, from Bish­op­stown in Cork, suf­fers from pul­monary atre­sia, a birth de­fect of the pul­monary valve in the heart, and has to use bot­tled oxy­gen 24-hours a day.

She was first as­sessed as need­ing a heart trans­plant in 2003 while in the care of the Mater in Dublin.

She then suf­fered the heart­break of five un­suc­cess­ful trans­plant calls be­tween 2003 and 2009.

But by 2009, her con­di­tion had wors­ened to the point where she re­quired a heart and dou­ble lung trans­plant.

Her care was trans­ferred to the Free­man Hos­pi­tal in New­cas­tle, and she has since been on their trans­plant list since.

Is­abel has had one un­suc­cess­ful call in that time.

She hit the head­lines last month when the HSE wouldn’t cover an air am­bu­lance trans­fer for her be­tween Cork and New­cas­tle to at­tend a vi­tal medical as­sess­ment.

But she made the trip af­ter an anony­mous bene­fac­tor stepped in at the last minute and pro­vided a pri­vate jet to en­sure she made the ap­point­ment.

Sin­gle heart and lung trans­plants are per­formed rou­tinely but it is rare to find match­ing or­gans for the heart and dou­ble lung trans­plant.

Is­abel, who has charted her ag­o­nis­ing wait through her blog, ‘Life on the List’, has spo­ken openly about the dis­ap­point­ment of get­ting the call, only to find the op­er­a­tion doesn’t go ahead.

“Your phone rings and it says ‘Is­abel, we have a pos­si­ble heart for you’,” she wrote.

“You grab your bag and you go. You’re brought up to the hos­pi­tal, my par­ents would have driven or there were a cou­ple of oc­ca­sions where I would have been brought by am­bu­lance up to Dublin.

“The first time I got called, af­ter about half an hour in the am­bu­lance, I picked up my phone and they said it’s not go­ing ahead so you lit­er­ally have to hang up and turn around and go home.

“There was four times I was prepped and they would just come in and say ‘look the heart isn’t good enough or suit­able enough they need to check it out first them­selves’.

“It has been heart­break­ing.”

But she said it’s im­por­tant to have a sense of per­spec­tive in the event of that dis­ap­point­ment.

“It is dif­fi­cult when it hap­pens but I say to my­self that I get to go home. Some­one is go­ing home with­out their son or daugh­ter that day.”

Trans­plant pa­tient Is­abel Terry and her mother Deirdre on the flight to New­cas­tle yes­ter­day, where she hopes to re­ceive a heart and dou­ble lung trans­plant.

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