Cork woman in UK for heart-and-lung operation after 15-year wait

Isabel Terry told this morning that a match for her has been found

Isabel Terry from Cork on her way to Newcastle for a double heart and lung transplant. Photograph: Life on the List Facebook page

Isabel Terry from Cork on her way to Newcastle for a double heart and lung transplant. Photograph: Life on the List Facebook page


A woman who has been on the double lung and heart transplant list for 15 years is finally getting the operation in the United Kingdom.

Isabel Terry, from Bishopstown in Cork, flew to Newcastle on Friday afternoon and was told this morning she is a match for organs that became available.

The life-saving operation in Newcastle can now proceed. On her Facebook page yesterday, Ms Terry posted a picture of herself on a plane with the message: “Just taking off for Newcastle and new life here I come”.

She hit the headlines last month after a business person stepped in to offer her a private plane for a vital hospital appointment in Newcastle. It came just days after the HSE turned down her request for an air ambulance.

Ms Terry has undergone three open heart surgeries and is on oxygen 24 hours a day. She has had several false alarms where she has been brought in for surgery only to be told at the last minute that the organ is not viable.

On Friday she received a call from her Newcastle-based consultant about matched organsand it was confirmed on Saturday in Newcastle that the operation would go ahead.

Isabel was first put on the transplant list in 2002. Earlier this year she told TV3’s Ireland AM of the struggle she has faced over the years.

“I had about four or five calls for the heart, none of them went ahead. Your phone rings and it says ‘Isabel, we have a possible heart for you.’ 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.”

Isabel says it is important to have a sense of perspective when the transplant doesn’t go ahead.

“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.”

Isabel has issued an appeal to members of the public to consider organ donation. She urges people to talk about it with their loved ones.

“You have to have the conversation about organ donation when you’re alive. It doesn’t have to be morbid, it takes two seconds. We need to talk about it. I don’t know how I am still here but I am. I just hope that I’ll get called because there is so much I want to do. I feel like I have so much faith. If I get called I will give it my best shot.”