Record break­ing Vera is so grate­ful

The Sligo Champion - - NEWS - By CIARA GALVIN

GREAT-GRANDMOTHER Vera Dwyer has been recog­nised as the long­est sur­viv­ing lung trans­plant re­cip­i­ent in the world.

The 77-year-old from Keash was awarded a gold medal­lion from the Ir­ish Heart and Lung Trans­plant As­so­ci­a­tion to mark 30 years since she re­ceived her trans­plant.

Di­ag­nosed with an ir­re­versible and chronic fi­brotic lung disease, Vera was left bed­bound. She re­ceived a sin­gle lung trans­plant in a life-sav­ing op­er­a­tion in the UK in 1988.

At the time such pro­ce­dures were not avail­able in Ire­land.

Speak­ing to The Sligo Cham­pion, Vera said she hadn’t heard of trans­plants at the time.

“I was dy­ing any­way so doc­tors said I should go to Eng­land.

“On May 18th I got the trans­plant, I was so lucky.

“When I got to Lon­don they told me I had only hours or days at most to live.”

At home Vera had four chil­dren rang­ing in age from 10 to 21-years-old, while she spent three months be­tween Air­field Hos­pi­tal and Royal Bromp­ton Hos­pi­tal re­cov­er­ing, post trans­plant.

Vera had to learn how to walk, talk and eat again.

Fly­ing home into the newly-built Knock Air­port, Vera re­mem­bers crowds with ban­ners and cars beep­ing on the way home.

“It was very ex­cit­ing, it was great to get home again to my own bed. At home I got bet­ter ev­ery day,” she noted.

Asked if she ever thought the trans­plant would be such a suc­cess, Vera ad­mits, ‘No, not at all’.

“I’m in all the med­i­cal records for this and the Guin­ness Book of Records as well.

“I don’t re­ally think about be­ing the long­est liv­ing,” said the pos­i­tive Sligo wo­man.

Pos­i­tiv­ity has got Vera through since 1988, re­ceiv­ing a kid­ney trans­plant in 2009 and re­place­ment hip surgery last May.

Vera be­lieves that oth­ers should re­ceive medals in­stead of her, for look­ing af­ter her through­out the last 30 years.

“The man that looked af­ter me was my hus­band Mike, he was my rock.

“He died in 2014. It was him that should have got­ten the medal.

“He was so good to me, brought me to all the clin­ics.

“Peo­ple that looked af­ter me should be get­ting the medals, not me.”

Thirty years ago, the mother of four was just hop­ing she would see her chil­dren reared, now, since be­com­ing the world’s long­est liv­ing lung trans­plant sur­vivor she hopes to con­tinue to en­joy time with her fam­ily, the youngest of which is twom­onth-old great grand­daugh­ter Maisie.

Vera also high­lighted the im­por­tance of or­gan do­na­tion and hopes peo­ple regis­ter for or­gan donor cards.

“With­out my donors I wouldn’t be here to­day. One thing I would say is if peo­ple could carry donor cards be­cause it’s so, so im­por­tant.

“For peo­ple wait­ing for a trans­plant or just had one, just keep go­ing.

“I have to think pos­i­tive all the time and that will get you a lot of places.”

Mr Gordon Dunne, CEO Mater Hos­pi­tal, Sarah Kier­nan, Mr Robert McCutcheon, Chair­man Ir­ish Heart & Lung Trans­plant As­soc. Vera Dwyer, Prof. JIM Egan Mater Hos­pi­tal, Sara Win­ward and Delia Beirne, daugh­ter.

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