Double transplant survivor Dermot Fenton dies 17 years after operation

Dermot Fenton, pictured 10 years after his transplants.

The Cork man who hit the headlines 17 years ago after being rushed to England for a heart and lung transplant, with his old heart then being implanted into a woman there, has died.

Dermot Fenton was a 24- year-old cystic fibrosis sufferer when, after waiting for more than a year for a double transplant, he was told in November 1998 an organ had become available — provided he could travel from Cork to Harefield Hospital, Middlesex, Britain, within three hours.

The Government jet was enlisted and the Glenville native made it to the hospital on time. As well as receiving the life-saving transplant, he was able to donate his heart to 48 year-old British mother Janet Netherton. In September 2005, as a result of complications caused by anti-infection medications, Dermot was told he needed a new kidney — which miraculously became available within five weeks.

Joe Browne, founder of the cystic fibrosis charity Build4Life, paid tribute to Fenton, saying he had always been a huge advocate for organ donation and for presumed consent — that a person’s organs would be donated on their death unless they had specifically denied consent.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Leo Varadkar has said 266 transplants were carried out in Ireland in 2015, an increase of 15 on 2014.

“This includes overall increases in kidney, lung, and liver transplants and the first combined heart and lung transplant,” he said.

However, Mr Varadkar said the failure to restart the pancreas programme and a fall in living kidney donors “is hugely disappointing”.

“But I am assured pancreas transplants will recommence in St Vincent’s in January now that a suitable surgeon has been identified and a tie-up with Edinburgh agreed,” he said. “At the suggestion of the Irish Kidney Assocation, I will ask the Office for Donation and Transplant Ireland (ODTI) and the HSE to draw up proposals to increase the number of kidney transplants in 2016.

“Recruiting suitable surgeons in Beaumont has proven very difficult but I do want to acknowledge the hard work of the surgeon there who carried out more transplants in 2015 than 2014, even though there is a shortage of surgeons.”


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