Thursday 18 July 2019

'There's so much I still want to do' - Cork woman says life-saving heart and double lung transplant is her last hope for normal life

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.

Patricia Murphy

A woman who has been on the list to receive a donor heart for more than 14 years said she has faith that she will one day undergo the procedure that will change her life.

Isabel Terry (41) was born with pulmonary atresia and has undergone three open heart surgeries in her lifetime, but is now awaiting a life-saving double lung and heart transplant.

Isabel is now on oxygen 24 hours a day and says her quality of life is very limited.

The Cork woman, who runs her own blog Life on the List, said she has been brought into hospital a number of times to undergo surgery, only to be told the organ is not viable.

Speaking to TV3's Ireland AM Isabel said: "I was put on the transplant list in 2003. I had about four or five calls for the heart, none of them went ahead.

"Your phone rings and it says 'Isabelle, we have a possible heart for you'. You grab your bag and you go. You're brought up to the hospital, my parents would have driven or there were a couple of occasions where I would have been brought by ambulance up to Dublin.

"The first time I got called, after about a half an hour in the ambulance, I picked up my phone and they said it's not going ahead so you literally have to hang up and turn around and go home.

"There was four times I was prepped and they would just come in and say look the heart isn't good enough or suitable enough. They need to check it out first themselves."

Isabel urged Irish people to speak about organ donation with their loved ones, as it could help save lives like her own.

"I'm on my oxygen all the time. I'm in bed all the time. Without my oxygen I'd turn blue. I was out of breath coming from the front door to here.

"You have to have the conversation about organ donation when you're alive. It doesn't have to be morbid, it takes two seconds.

"We need to talk about it. I don't know how I'm still here but I am. I just hope that I'll get called because there's so much I want to do. I feel like I have so much faith. If I get called I'll give it my best shot," he said.

This week marks Organ Donor Awareness Week and is organised by the Irish Kidney Association (IKA). You can support the IKA by buying 'forget-me-not' flowers and other merchandise from volunteers who will be distributing organ donor cards.

For more information, see or freetext DONOR to 50050

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