Thursday 29 September 2016

'It's like getting a new life' - Irish mother with rare disease back home following 'unbelievable' life-saving treatment

Amy Mulvaney

Published 18/08/2016 | 16:15

Marina Killoran received life-saving treatment in Chicago.
Marina Killoran received life-saving treatment in Chicago.
Marina and Alan Killoran at their home in Newbridge Credit: Kyran O'Brien

An Irish mother who travelled to Chicago for life-saving treatment after funds were raised through an online campaign is in “very good spirits.”

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Marina Jordan Killoran (45), who suffers from an incurable auto-immune disease called Systemic Scleroderm, arrived home on Monday morning after six weeks in Chicago where she received a stem-cell transplant that isn’t available in Ireland.

The mum-of-two from Tallaght travelled to Northwestern Memorial Hospital with her husband Alan in July after over €160,000 was raised in order to receive the treatment.

Alan told Independent.ie that Marina is doing well and she underwent the transplant and chemotherapy without any major issues.

Marina and Alan Killoran at their home in Newbridge Credit: Kyran O'Brien
Marina and Alan Killoran at their home in Newbridge Credit: Kyran O'Brien

“Marina had a fever and has bone paint and joint pain. She’s sleeping quite a lot and taking the pain medication, which is very effective,” said Alan.

“Other than that, she’s in very good spirits.”

Marina harvested seven and a half million stem cells for her transplant, with a minimum of two million needed.

“The transfusion was less than 15 minutes. It was unbelievable. It was almost like waiting for childbirth. It sounds cheesy, but the nurses wished her a happy birthday because it’s like getting a new life.”

Marina, Alan and their daughters Shannon and Erin.
Marina, Alan and their daughters Shannon and Erin.

“When stem cells were being infused, it smell like sweetcorn in the air. So for the next two weeks while I was walking through the hospital  I could smell sweetcorn in the air – it was fantastic.”

Read more: 'I keep having to pinch myself, I feel so lucky' - Irish mother with rare disease begins life-saving treatment

Prior to travelling to America, Marina’s knee deteriorated and she was in a wheelchair. When she arrived her doctor, Dr Burt, did a series of X-rays and found there was a build-up of calcium fluid in the knee, leaving it badly swollen.

Dr Burt didn’t want to do any intrusive surgery in case of infection, and decided to leave the knee.

Since then, “everything went fantastically well,” said Alan.

“We got home on Monday morning at 4:30am, since then we’ve been organising blood tests and doctor’s appointments. Marina will have to get a blood test every week for the next 12 weeks and they’ll email the results back to the hospital in Chicago.”

“Marina has to go back in six months time because of the issue with her heart. She had to get a cardiac-friendly treatment, and is only the eighth or ninth person to receive the new protocol. She’ll have to get another batch of tests. She’ll basically be returning to Chicago yearly for five years,” he said.

Alan said he, Marina and their two daughters Shannon (21) and Erin (16) are extremely thankful for the help they received through fundraising to make the treatment possible.

“We can never repay the kindness of the media, friends, family, strangers.”

“Without you we wouldn’t have gotten here. It’s very hard to sink in. To go from a dire circumstance to sitting in the hospital in Chicago, we can’t help but think ‘How lucky are we?’”

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