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Friday 9 December 2016

Air Corps cancels party after transplant bungle

Edel O'Connell

Published 07/07/2011 | 05:00

Liver transplant patient Meadhbh McGivern with her parents Joe and Assumpta. Fourteen-year-old Meadhbh was at
the centre of the failed airlift last weekend
Liver transplant patient Meadhbh McGivern with her parents Joe and Assumpta. Fourteen-year-old Meadhbh was at the centre of the failed airlift last weekend

TEENAGER Meadhbh McGivern and her dad Joe -- who were at the centre of the botched transplant flight to London at the weekend -- were among 100 guests due to celebrate the Air Corps air ambulance role in Baldonnel today.

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But the event, organised to allow parents of transplant recipients to thank the Air Corps for flying their children to their life-saving operations, has been cancelled after it was deemed inappropriate following the weekend's failed airlift.

The event, which was jointly organised by support group Children's Liver Disease Ireland and the Air Corps, was to take place today at Casement Aerodrome in Dublin.

Among the 100 invited guests were 41 young children who are all either on the liver transplant list or who are transplant recipients. Members of the Air Corps and HSE were also scheduled to join the families for the event, which was planned to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation in Ireland.

Meadhbh (14), from Ballinamore, Co Leitrim -- who is in desperate need of a liver transplant -- was told a suitable organ had been located in London last Saturday night. But, following a number of contentious decisions, she was unable to secure air transport before the transplant deadline elapsed.

The teenager, who has been housebound since Christmas due to infection fears, was stranded in Sligo with her family after an offer from the Air Corps -- which would have brought her to London before the deadline by using the Gulfstream G4 jet -- was turned down.

Transport

The private company organising the transport, Emergency Medical Support Services, has claimed key information -- including the fact that the liver had a shelf-life of only a few hours -- had not been passed on, so it did not know of the time pressures involved.

One of the organisers of the celebration, Aoife O'Gorman, from Dalkey, Co Dublin, whose two-year-old daughter Laura underwent a liver transplant last August, said liver donations were at an all-time low, which made the airlift failure even more difficult to take.

"It is difficult enough for parents to deal with the fact that when their child will be called for transplant is completely out of their control, but now there is the added dimension of worrying something could go wrong with their transport -- with a shortage of livers that's not what you want to be thinking about," she said.

She added the group would consider rescheduling the event.

Irish Independent

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