Wexford student Amy Richards who had to sit three days of her Leaving Cert exams in hospital after undergoing surgery for a ruptured appendix, was 'over the moon' when she got her results.
Amy secured a hugely impressive 6 H1s equalling a total of 602 points in the exams, including a H1 in English, having completed English Paper 1 while hooked up to a drip on painkiller and anti-nausea medication.
The determined young woman experienced every student's worst nightmare when she was admitted to Wexford General Hospital with a burst appendix on the night before the Leaving Cert.
She had an operation to remove her appendix in the early hours of the morning and by 9.30 a.m., she was sitting at a hospital dinner table doing her first English exam after the State Examinations Commission refused to allow her defer it until July under new provisions introduced this year for recently-bereaved students.
Amy said she hardly remembered doing that first paper on June 5 after sleeping for just a few hours following the surgery, and asking her mother to wake her at 7.30 a.m.
Even though it was one of her strongest subjects, she was thrilled especially to get top marks in English given the traumatic circumstances in which she completed the two papers on day one and two of the exams. She also received a H1 in five other subjects and a H3 in Maths and was thinking about having the Maths papers reviewed.
Surprised at her overall result, the hardworking student said: 'I am absolutely over the moon. I did not expect to get above 500. I don't know how I managed it'.
Amy said she was lucky that she did manage to do so well but she doesn't think anyone else should be forced to endure such an 'inhumane' experience and she is continuing to campaign for exemptions for students who have a medical emergency in the middle of exams.
'I still think it is so unfair. I was lucky that I had worked continuously during the two years and I didn't need to cram', she said.
'I'm still going to make sure that something is done. I wasn't the only one. I've heard of two other girls who were also in hospital during the exams'.
Amy wrote a letter to the Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin, asking him to raise the issue politically and she highlighted her experience nationally by writing a letter to the Irish Times and speaking out on RTE radio.
She has also been working with the Irish Second Level Students Union on the call for a change in exemption guidelines.
Amy had hoped to study medicine and she completed the H-Pat aptitude test for applicants earlier in the year but due to an increase in the number of points for medicine in all colleges this year, she narrowly lost out and didn't secure a place on the first round of CAO offers, even with an excellent Leaving Cert, although the second round offers had yet to come out.
Demonstrating the same strength of character and positive attitude that enabled her to stay focused while seriously ill in hospital, she is now happily looking forward to studying Bio Medical Health and Life Sciences in UCD, with potential options for repeating the H-Pat or transferring into medicine later.'Everything happens for a reason. I will get there eventually. You can never tell. Who knows where this will lead. I'm going to go into it with an open mind', she said.