'I have carried the burden of this injustice for 14 months'

I AM writing this letter in the hope that you will be able to help me in my fight for survival.

I have been battling against all the odds to receive a double lung transplant for almost four years. I had lived a very full life up until then, but unfortunately while I was out in Australia on a one-year working holiday visa I got a collapsed lung and ended up in hospital for 10 weeks. I almost died.

However, I managed to fight to get well enough to be sent home to Ireland to try to get a double lung transplant, my only chance of survival.

Professor Peter Bye, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney told me without the transplant I had only a year to live. This was in May 2000.

Upon returning home, I was shocked to find out that there was no lung transplant centre in Ireland. All Irish lung transplants are carried out in Britain. So I set about being assessed for a transplant in the Freeman hospital in Newcastle.

This assessment took place in September 2000. I was told during that assessment, by Professor Paul Corris, that I was a perfect candidate for transplant and was accepted on their waiting list.

For the next two years I waited. Nothing happened. The call never came.

Unfortunately then, in October 2002, I became very ill and was at that point not well enough to be transplanted. I spent the following four-and-a-half months in hospital in Dublin, trying every antibiotic in every combination known to man.

It was an extremely difficult time. Some days the cure seemed worse than the illness. But I fought on. And I won. I was so happy and so relieved to have succeeded against all the odds, again. All that was left now was to attend a clinic being held by the team from Newcastle in the Mater hospital on Valentines Day, February 14, 2003 so that I could be activated again.

It was supposed to be a great day. Instead, it was the beginning of the nightmare, which has haunted me every day since. It is a day I will never forget, however long I live.

What happened that day and subsequently is now a matter of public record, public disbelief and public anger.

My family and friends and I have carried the burden of this injustice in private for the past 14 months, certain that it would never come to this. Certain the Irish Government would not stand by and allow this to happen. Certain this nightmare would end. Yet, still it continues.

The top specialist in lung transplantation in Ireland is adamant I should be on the transplant list. It is completely beyond my comprehension how it is possible for his assertion to be ignored by the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.

Because of their belligerence, I can no longer be considered for organs donated in my own country. Another hospital in Manchester is waiting to do this operation if a pair of suitable lungs is made available from Ireland.

Newcastle is acting recklessly. If they are not willing to transplant all suitable Irish patients, then they should not get first call on ALL Irish donor lungs.

This situation cannot continue. Irish organs should be available to ALL Irish patients irrespective of which hospital carries out the operation. These changes have to be made. Action has to be taken.

My situation is now terribly desperate. If suitable organs are not made available to the hospital in Manchester immediately, I will die.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.

Sincerely,

Billy.

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