Fiona O’Sullivan from Hollyhill, a 27-year-old cystic fibrosis sufferer and mother of one, may have the Christmas she’s been praying for if all goes according to plan at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle where a medical team last night began the complex operation.
The death of a young boy in Britain sadly and poignantly provided Fiona with the life line she has been waiting to grasp for the past three years. Fiona has suffered from cystic fibrosis all her life but in recent years the condition has become grave.
Yesterday, at 4pm she received the call from the British medical centre and was given 20 minutes to pack and make her way to Cork Airport where a flight was waiting to take her to hospital.
“Every neighbour and friend was out on the street to see her off and wish her well,” said her next door neighbour, Patricia Buckley.
“It’s very upsetting that it took the death of a boy to make it possible for Fiona to get a new lease of life and we are all hoping and praying that everything will be a success,” she said.
“Fiona had been at home for the past week to spend time with her daughter Katelyn, who is five. She had no idea until she got the telephone call at four o’clock that she was going to be travelling to Newcastle for the operation.
“She has been suffering a lot for the past three years and had no quality of life. She was in and out of hospital all the time and lately she had been very, very unwell.
“This could really turn out to be the best Christmas present ever,” Patricia said.
The operation was expected to be carried out through the night and it will be some time today before Patricia and Fiona’s other friends and neighbours will be updated on her progress.
Last year, the first lung transplant operations were carried out at Dublin’s Mater Hospital.
Since the start of that programme, transplant patients on the British list were told they could not be on both that and the Irish list.
“I was faced with a difficult decision, and in the end I stayed with the UK hospital as obviously they would have more experience,” Fiona said at the time.