Cocooner (24) upset as hip ops cancelled

Katherine Murtagh, who has had her surgery cancelled

Amy Molloy

A woman cocooning since last March has spoken of her disappointment after urgent hip replacement surgery was delayed for a fourth time.

Katherine Murtagh (24) has an autoimmune condition called systemic-onset juvenile idiopathic arthritis and has had surgery appointments cancelled because of Covid-19.

The artist, who lives in Tullamore, Co Offaly, spent Christmas alone and said it was upsetting to see friends posting pictures on New Year's Eve.

She started studying art and design at Galway Technical Institute in 2019, but had to leave due to her condition.

Her hip was badly damaged when she was four-years-old due to her arthritis and she was placed on the urgent surgery waiting list only last year. She was due to get a replacement hip last March.


"Because I'm immunocompromised, the only time I've left the house is to go to prep for surgery and to get Covid-19 tests," she said.

"I'm hoping it happens this year as I know my body won't be able to get back to college without the hip replacement. I'm also in a lot of pain and have had a few falls."

For the past 10 months, Ms Murtagh's mother, who lives in Co Louth, has been delivering groceries and essentials.

"I think a lot of people think cocooners are over-65s, but it's also people who have any sort of autoimmune condition," Ms Murtagh said.

"It's frustrating to see people talking as if we should all be locked up while they go out. I have friends who saw me in hospital and were having parties on New Year's Eve, which was disappointing.

"My mental health completely deteriorated in lockdown, but you have to cope. There's no choice."