Monday 26 February 2018

'The HSE won't provide an air ambulance' - Woman awaiting double lung and heart transplant faces 13-hour trip

Isabel was born with pulmonary atresia. Between 1975 and 2001, she had three open heart surgeries.
Isabel was born with pulmonary atresia. Between 1975 and 2001, she had three open heart surgeries.
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

A woman who has been awaiting a double lung and heart transplant for almost 14 years is facing a daunting 13-hour trip to the UK for a medical appointment on Tuesday.

Isabel Terry (42) from Bishopstown, Cork was hopeful the HSE would provide an air ambulance to transport her to Newcastle since she cannot travel on a normal flight due to her health condition.

However, she claims they have not responded to this request.

Isabel was born with pulmonary atresia and has undergone three open heart surgeries in her lifetime.

Isabel runs her own blog 'Life on the List'
Isabel runs her own blog 'Life on the List'

She now fears that doctors will tell her she's not eligible for the transplants she desperately needs, and which cannot be performed in Ireland.

"I’m nervous enough going to Newcastle, I’m anxious that they’re going to say I'm too ill to do a transplant. You have to be well enough to get a transplant, but you’ve to be sick enough to get on the list," she told

Her friend has offered to drive her to Belfast to get a ferry to Scotland and to then drive her to Newcastle, staying in B&B's along the way.

Isabel requires oxygen 24-hours a day and described her condition as "deteriorating."

Pulmonary atresia is a form of heart disease in which the pulmonary valve does not form properly, meaning blood cannot flow to the lungs easily.

The Cork woman said having to face a gruelling 13-hour journey is increasing her anxiety and makes her feel like "she doesn't matter."

"I’m not a huge crier, but don’t get me wrong, I have my bad days. You have sick people and they’ll do a bucket list, but I have a list of things I’m going to do after my transplant. I’m going to see Rodeo Drive because Pretty Woman is my favourite film, I'm determined."

Isabel claims the journey would take just over an hour if an air ambulance were to be provided.

"Ministers can use planes and helicopters all the time, why can't ordinary, sick people?" she asked.

She received a response from Health Minister Simon Harris after sending numerous emails to his office.

"Minister Harris said he would look into the issue. The whole situation is upsetting and frustrating. I try to have a positive outlook, but it's not always easy."

The HSE said it does not comment on individual cases for reasons of patient confidentiality.

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