Friday 22 November 2019

No fuss as Meadhbh gets back to normality one year after liver transplant

Meadhbh McGivern: back to school after liver transplant
Meadhbh McGivern: back to school after liver transplant

Marese McDonagh

WHILE most teenagers were dreading going back to school, Meadhbh McGivern was looking forward to getting back in to the classroom for the first time in 20 months.

Almost a year after having a liver transplant, she donned her uniform of dark trousers, red jumper and white polo shirt and set off for Ballinamore Secondary School in Co Leitrim.

Meadhbh wanted no fuss and her excited father Joe, a garda who was on night duty on Tuesday, obediently stayed in bed yesterday morning while her mother Assumpta did the first school run with their youngest child since January 2011.

Assumpta's attempt to capture it on camera got a thumbs down from Meadhbh who just wanted to get back to normal.

"It was really good to be back and to see all my friends, they have been so supportive," said Meadhbh yesterday afternoon.

"When I walked in, the vice principal gave me a big hug. It was nice."

But there were no banners or lavish displays as Meadhbh -- who turns 16 in November -- just wants to get back to the teenage business of school, discos and listening to music.

Now a Junior Cert student, she dismissed queries about that prospect, saying: "It is only an exam."

Meadhbh had a liver transplant operation at King's College Hospital in London last September, a few months after the nation was horrified by a mix-up which meant she missed out on the life-saving surgery.


Now, a year later, the family are savouring the joy of back-to-school normality.

"This is an absolutely fantastic milestone," said Joe.

"All she ever wanted was to get back to school and be with her friends, but I suppose it will be a bit strange for us, having had a sick child at home for about a year and half."

Meadhbh did have home tuition for most of last year and was delighted to be rejoining her old classmates in third year.

"You might expect to have to reassure a child who is going into Junior Cert year but Meadhbh is totally unfazed," said Joe.

"This is a big big day in all our lives," said the proud father, whose oldest daughter Ciara (18) has also moved on, having started in Yeats College Galway this week.

"We were up in Crumlin Hospital last week for the last check-up before Meadbh went back to school and the results were even better than we hoped for," he added.

Meadbh herself is savouring the moment and also looking forward to the future.

"I think maybe I'd like to be a national school teacher. I love little kids," she said.

Irish Independent

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