Saturday 10 December 2016

This Irish woman will change name to US election winner - if she can save her husband

Published 19/10/2016 | 02:30

Peter McDonnell with his wife Helen, who is raising money to help treat his illness
Peter McDonnell with his wife Helen, who is raising money to help treat his illness

The prospect of Donald Trump being elected president is particularly troubling for Helen McDonnell after she promised to change her name by deed poll to whoever wins the US election.

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The 57-year-old secretary will be officially known as either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump if she succeeds in raising €34,000 through a unique crowd-funding scheme she hopes will give her the financial means to help save her husband's life.

Helen, from Kiltimagh, Co Mayo, made the bizarre pledge in a bid to raise vital funds for husband Peter McDonnell (58), who is battling an incurable lung disease.

The couple, who moved to Mayo from their native London 20 years ago, came up with the scheme after Peter's 27-year-old nephew Oliver suggested injecting a bit of humour into an otherwise serious situation.

Although Helen doesn't relish the thought of being known locally as "The Donald" or even Hillary for that matter, she has vowed to go through with the legal name change if it means there is a chance to save the life of her beloved husband who suffers from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

There is no cure for the terminal illness and Peter was given only three to five years to live when he got the grim diagnosis in 2013.

His only chance of survival is if he receives a double lung transplant. As Peter, a former plumber, hopes to get on the waiting list for a double lung transplant, the couple's finances are dwindling because neither can work.

With Peter's condition deteriorating, Helen now provides 24-hour care.

Although Helen is hoping Trump won't be elected next month, she is prepared to adopt his moniker. "It's a bit daunting and I'm not sure what the complications are going to be. Maybe Peter could call me Dolly or something," she laughed.

For more details, see www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/namechanger

Irish Independent

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