Working life: Kitty O’Connor, Alpha-1 Foundation CEO

Our alarm clock is our two-year-old son. My husband and I start the day with him. By 8.15am, we are on the road to work and crèche.


I check emails, voice messages, and the day’s schedule. 

The Alpha-1 Foundation focuses on raising awareness, increasing diagnosis, promoting research, and improving treatment in Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (Alpha-1). 

It’s a genetic condition that can cause lung, liver, and sometimes skin disease. 

One in 25 people in Ireland are carriers. 

The national centre for Alpha-1 is based on the RCSI/Beaumont Hospital campus.


I attend a national targeted detection screening programme meeting with our senior scientist, clinical research assistant, and research nurse. 

The programme tests individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), severe asthma, unexplained cirrhosis of the liver and individuals with a first degree relative diagnosed with Alpha-1. 

To date we have screened more than 16,000 individuals. One quarter possess an alpha-1 mutation. 

We discuss monthly testing figures, results that need further investigation, and upcoming visits to participating hospitals


The Foundation is a member of the Irish Lung Health Alliance. 

I attend a meeting in relation to the ‘Lovin’ our Lungs’ campaign which sees the launch of a nationwide mini movie competition for teenagers to promote lung health. 

We want entrants to focus on the themes of No smoking, Exercise, and Healthy Diet. 

It’s in partnership with Foróige and the closing date is May 22. 

We also discuss details of the launch of our new website


Back to the office for a quick lunch.


I meet with our Alpha-1 team to prepare for our weekly out-patients’ clinic.


The team sees 16 people with an Alpha-1 diagnosis. Today I meet a lady with a history of COPD and recently diagnosed with Alpha-1. 

We discuss how alpha-1 antitrypsin is a protein produced by the liver that protects the lungs against cigarette smoke and infection. 

Alpha-1 is a genetic disorder where the body does not produce enough Alpha-1 protein. The lack of it leads to lung inflammation, tissue damage, and can cause COPD.


I head home to spend quality time with my husband and son.


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