'I fear for college dream' - student forced to sit exams three days after operation
A Dublin student who had emergency surgery during her Leaving Cert has said she was forced to sit two exams while still in pain and narrowly missed a higher grade in one paper.
Sophie O'Donoghue, a former pupil of Donabate Community College and a keen footballer, will find out today if she is offered the course she wants to do or if her points exclude her from the first round of CAO offers.
The 18-year-old, from Donabate in north county Dublin, said her parents pleaded with the State Examinations Commission to allow her to sit her last two exams last month under a new system that allows students suffering bereavement to defer for a month.
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However, their request was declined and Sophie had to do her Spanish and accounting exams while in pain and recovering from surgery.
"I'm hoping to study accounting, and one of the exams I had to sit after the surgery was accounting," she said.
"I've now found out I was 1pc away from a higher grade in Spanish, and that could be the difference between me getting my course or not.
"I got 440 points, but if I had got the extra 1pc in Spanish I might have got an extra 11 points.
"The course I want to do in DIT was 440 points last year, and if that has increased this year I could lose out.
"Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with acute appendicitis on June 14 and had to be operated on the next day.
"I was discharged from the Beacon Hospital on June 16. I was barely able to walk and was still in severe pain from the surgery.
"My parents reached out to the State Examinations Commission to see if I could be allowed to finish my Leaving Certificate on July 8 along with bereaved students, but this was denied to me.
"I was forced to sit my remaining two exams, Spanish and accounting, on June 18 and 19 while still on medication and still feeling the effects of the anaesthetic. I still had my stitches in.
"This was a horrible exper- ience as I was mentally and physically unwell.
"How can someone be forced to sit two vital exams three days post-operation?
"I know college students who have had emergency surgery and have had their exams deferred to their next semester, so why can't the Leaving Certificate follow suit?
"There should be something put in place for students who have had emergency surgery."
The only concession given to Sophie was to allow her to sit her last two exams in a room on her own with a sup- ervisor.
Sophie's mum, Audrey, said: "We were due to go to Canada on July 8, but we were prepared to defer that if Sophie could have done her exams at that time.
"She worked very hard at school and all we wanted was for her to have the same chance as the other students.
"The examinations commission said they had to protect the integrity of the Leaving Cert, but how can they protect it if a student who has had emergency surgery is not given a chance to sit an exam when they're better?"
The State Examinations Commission was not available for comment.