Sunday 19 November 2017

Becky can breathe again after historic lung operation

Pat Hurst

A YOUNG woman has made medical history after a double world-first operation to cure her lung condition.

Becky Jones (20) who is now out of intensive care following surgery, said: "I can't, for the life of me, remember feeling so well. The world is officially my oyster!"

She was airlifted from her home in Dublin for the ground-breaking treatment on May 29 by world-leading experts at University Hospital of South Manchester (UHSM) in England.

Ms Jones made history twice by being the first patient to have a lung transplant while suffering from multi-resistant aspergillus -- a common airborne fungus -- and multiple fungal balls in her lungs.

Lung transplant patients have never before been able to have the operation while suffering from either of these conditions.

Aspergillus covers a large number of diseases involving both infection and growth of fungus as well as allergic responses.

The condition had left Becky virtually house bound, unable to walk properly, climb stairs or go out with friends.

She had been on the waiting list for over a year and was accepted for transplant only because the hospital also houses the National Aspergillosis Centre, which specialises in treating the condition.

Just 18 days after the historic operation, she is out of intensive care, tucking into her food and making plans for her future.

"Words simply cannot begin to describe the pure relief I feel," she said yesterday.

"The chains have been lifted. I can breathe. I can't, for the life of me, remember feeling so well.

"I now plan to travel and study fashion design at college. The world is officially my oyster," she added.


Professor David Denning, who is director of the National Aspergillosis Centre, said: "Becky's transplant brings together a remarkable set of expertises; in fungal infection, molecular testing, advanced transplantation techniques and intensive care, all under the one roof.

"With increasing antifungal resistance since 2004, she is a courageous torchbearer for others," he added.

Ms Jones developed aspergillosis because she has cystic fibrosis and became allergic to the aspergillus.

Because she needed special drugs to improve her breathing, the fungus grew in her damaged airways to form large fungal balls, known as aspergillomas. She was treated with an antifungal drug but the fungus developed resistance.

She is now on preventative antifungal agents, given by aerosol and intravenously, to minimise the risk of life-threatening invasive aspergillosis, which is common after lung transplantation because of immune suppression to prevent rejection.

Irish Independent

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