'Medical miracle' dad returns to hospital where he had heart transplant as a child with his own daughters
Published 22/05/2015 | 10:18
A Tallaght dad has been described as a "medical miracle" at the Mater Hospital where he became the youngest person in Irish history to receive a heart transplant.
Patrick Barry (33), a painter and decorator, said he owes his life to the hospital's staff after his heart doubled in size when he was 11-years-old and treatment was unavailable.
"I thought I had the flu but then I got very, very sick," he told the Herald.
"After a couple of weeks I got the transplant and thank God because I was only a baby. Most people have to wait years."
Mr Barry returned to the Mater with his fiancee and two young girls, to praise the dedication of Freddie Wood, the surgeon who carried out the operation all those years ago.
"We're very grateful and thankful to Freddie Wood," Mr Barry said.
"He took on a lot, he risked his job at the time because they used to send kids over to England, but he said I was too sick to go."
"My life is in debt to him and his team, they would have lost a lot of time with their families for helping the likes of me," Mr Barry added.
Mr Barry urged people to consider the importance of donating organs.
"People donate organs and think it's only going to save one life, but it's creating lives," he said.
"I've had kids and they're going to have kids so it affects generations upon generations, that's why it's really important to be an organ donor."
The event marked the 30th year since the first heart transplant at the Mater, and the 10th anniversary of the first lung transplant. In total 330 heart transplants and 130 lung transplants have been performed at the Dublin hospital.
Also attending the anniversary celebration were Health Minister Leo Varadkar and surgeons and consultants at the hospital.
The minister paid tribute to "everyone who has worked on the hospital transplant programme".
He said he hoped the Mater would reach a record number of 300 total transplants by the end of this year.
"As Minister I want to ensure that we do all that we can so as many people as possible benefit from this gift of life," Minister Varadkar said.
Chair of the Irish National Lung and Heart Transplant Program, Professor Jim Egan, echoed the minister's sentiments.
"With the support of the minister we have secured funding and we're looking to try deploy an Irish version of the Spanish transplant system, which is the most successful in the world," Mr Egan said.