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Monday 22 January 2018

Brave Meadhbh's just thankful for a second chance

Meadhbh (14) with her Leitrim Young Person of the Year award
Meadhbh (14) with her Leitrim Young Person of the Year award
Meadhbh at home in Ballinamore, Co Leitrim, with her parents Joe and Assumpta McGivern

Edel O'Connell

IT'S the little things that Meadhbh McGivern is most looking forward to.

Thanks to the liver donor who gave her a second chance at life, the 14-year-old can't wait to hang out with her friends, go on a family holiday, ride her bike and return to school.

These are the things other teenagers take for granted, but Meadhbh, who suffers from progressive liver disease, had been seriously ill and on a transplant list for two years before the marathon operation finally took place at a top London hospital last month.

The transplant was performed two months after Meadhbh missed out on an earlier organ when the authorities in charge of her transport failed to airlift her on time.

But that trauma was in the past this weekend as Meadhbh's delighted parents Joe and Assumpta McGivern welcomed their daughter back to the family home in Ballinamore, Co Leitrim.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, the schoolgirl thanked the donor who gave her a second chance and said she was "absolutely delighted" to be home after being discharged from Crumlin Hospital on Friday.

The teen was airlifted by the Air Corps from Kings College Hospital in London to Crumlin Hospital last Tuesday.

She was then discharged home on Friday, just one month and a day after her 14-hoursurgery. Meadhbh, who turns 15 next month, was the Irish paediatric patient who waited the longest for a transplant.

The brave teenager said she was still in a lot of pain but was hoping to return to school in a few months.

"I want to thank all of the doctors and nurses in London and Dublin who helped me. I want to thank the donor for giving me a new life and I want people to think about carrying an organ donor card as it is very important for people like me," Meadhbh said.

She said she remembered very little about the operation.

The family has been inundated by messages of support from friends and family and well-wishers from all over Ireland -- and Meadhbh has decorated her room with the hundreds of cards she received.

"I want to thank every person in Ireland who prayed for me," she said.

As Meadhbh is still highly susceptible to infection, she cannot receive visitors or visit any public places until her immune system is stronger.

The schoolgirl must also undergo a gruelling daily routine of physiotherapy at home to get back on her feet.


Her father Joe says he still flinches every time the phone rings late at night as it still has not sunk in that the "family's nightmare" is finally over.

"I still have to pinch myself to believe it is all over," he said.

Mr McGivern attended the Leitrim People of the Year awards on Friday night to pick up the Young Leitrim Person of the Year award on behalf of his daughter.

After the initial transplant blunder, the Health Information and Quality Authority recommended the setting of a national centre to co-ordinate the transport of patients.

This centre was supposed to be in place last week -- however, it has been delayed due to the recruitment embargo in the health service.

Irish Independent

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