It finally came at 10.30am yesterday.
Isabel Terry, one of Ireland’s longest waiting heart and double lung transplant patients, jetted out on a special medical flight from Cork Airport bound for the UK with her mother, Deirdre, and partner Philip, by her side.
It follows that long-awaited call from the transplant coordination team at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital that a match for all three organs had been found.
“The phone rang and they said: ‘Isabel, how do you fancy coming to Newcastle?’. They said it’s a match for all three organs but it’s a match on paper at this stage. The surgeon will still have to make the final call about whether to go ahead, so I’m travelling with hope,” she said.
“I’m just a bit nervous, but I’m feeling good about it. I’m going in positive.”
Isabel, 41, from Bishopstown in Cork, suffers from pulmonary atresia, a birth defect of the pulmonary valve in the heart, and has to use bottled oxygen 24-hours a day.
She was first assessed as needing a heart transplant in 2003 while in the care of the Mater in Dublin.
She then suffered the heartbreak of five unsuccessful transplant calls between 2003 and 2009.
But by 2009, her condition had worsened to the point where she required a heart and double lung transplant.
Her care was transferred to the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, and she has since been on their transplant list since.
Isabel has had one unsuccessful call in that time.
She hit the headlines last month when the HSE wouldn’t cover an air ambulance transfer for her between Cork and Newcastle to attend a vital medical assessment.
But she made the trip after an anonymous benefactor stepped in at the last minute and provided a private jet to ensure she made the appointment.
Cork woman awaiting transplant faces gruelling journey as HSE fails to provide air ambulance https://t.co/HoqU1DmDaR— Isabel Terry (@IsabelTerry75) August 23, 2017
Single heart and lung transplants are performed routinely but it is rare to find matching organs for the heart and double lung transplant.
Isabel, who has charted her agonising wait through her blog, ‘Life on the List’, has spoken openly about the disappointment of getting the call, only to find the operation doesn’t go ahead.
“Your phone rings and it says ‘Isabel, we have a possible heart for you’,” she wrote.
“You grab your bag and you go. You’re brought up to the hospital, my parents would have driven or there were a couple of occasions where I would have been brought by ambulance up to Dublin.
“The first time I got called, after about half an hour in the ambulance, I picked up my phone and they said it’s not going ahead so you literally have to hang up and turn around and go home.
“There was four times I was prepped and they would just come in and say ‘look the heart isn’t good enough or suitable enough they need to check it out first themselves’.
“It has been heartbreaking.”
But she said it’s important to have a sense of perspective in the event of that disappointment.
“It is difficult when it happens but I say to myself that I get to go home. Someone is going home without their son or daughter that day.”