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Lung transplant Vera marks 30 years since life-saving operation

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Vera Dwyer, granddaughter Sarah Kiernan and daughter Della Beirne at the Mater Hospital

Vera Dwyer, granddaughter Sarah Kiernan and daughter Della Beirne at the Mater Hospital

Vera Dwyer, granddaughter Sarah Kiernan and daughter Della Beirne at the Mater Hospital

A great-grandmother has been recognised as the world's longest surviving single lung transplant patient by the Guinness Book of Records.

Vera Dwyer (77), from Co Sligo, was honoured yesterday at a ceremony in Dublin's Mater Hospital, where she said the operation in the UK saved her life and allowed her the privilege of raising her children.

She said her longevity is due to "positive thinking, good care and the fresh air" of her native Sligo.

Mrs Dwyer was awarded a gold medallion from the Irish Heart and Lung Transplant Association to mark the 30th anniversary of her operation.

She was diagnosed in the 1980s with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, an irreversible, chronic and ultimately fatal fibrotic lung disease.

She was seriously ill when she was transferred to Harefield Hospital near London in 1988.

However, thanks to the kindness of an organ donor she received a new lung.

"Another patient was given the other lung, but she didn't survive," said Mrs Dwyer.

At the time, lung transplantation was not available in Ireland and she had to travel to England for the life-saving procedure.

The mother-of-four, grandmother-of-seven and great-grandmother-of-three also received a kidney transplant in 2009 and underwent hip replacement surgery last May.

"It's an absolute honour to receive this award. Thirty years ago I was given just days to live and I'm very lucky to still be here," she said.

Wonderful

"I would like to thank all the doctors and nurses who have helped me, especially those at the National Heart and Lung Transplant Centre at the Mater Hospital who have been wonderful in my care since the centre opened in 2003.

"But most especially my two donors, without whom I would not be here."

Consultant transplant and respiratory physician Prof Jim Egan said that last year a record 36 lung transplants took place in Ireland, and the country is currently ranked fourth in Europe for the number of such operations per million of population.


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