Young man who made transplant history was 'icon of hope', writes Charlie Keegan
PAUL Minchin, who became the first cystic fibrosis sufferer to undergo a double lung and heart transplant in Ireland, passed away peacefully at Dublin's Mater Hospital on May 12 at the age of 22.
Born with cystic fibrosis, Paul had to use an oxygen cylinder to assist his breathing up to the time he underwent surgery in July 2007.
Paul, from Coolnacuppogue, Bagenalstown, Co Carlow, underwent the four-hour procedure which made Irish medical history at the Mater. For the following three years, Paul was liberated from the ill health that had dogged him from birth.
During his short life, Paul made a huge impression on people. Fr Paddy Byrne, CC Bagenalstown, in a eulogy at Paul's funeral Mass, described Paul as "an icon of hope . . . a person who defined life not by its length, but by its quality" and whose extraordinary courage and warmth touched the lives of so many.
Uncomplaining throughout his long battle, Paul's level of recovery allowed him compete in the 2009 National Ploughing Championships in Athy. His godfather and neighbour, Michael O'Neill, said this was his proudest moment.
Fr Byrne emphasised the optimism Paul displayed. When he left hospital after surgery in the summer of 2007, Paul was given a massive welcome home by his local community. Within weeks, he attended his debs and, given his new lease of life, threw himself into working on the Minchins' family farm.
The youngest of a family of six, he was a past pupil of Ballinkillen National School and Borris Vocational School. Paul was public relations officer for the Co Carlow Ploughing Association and secretary of the Bagenalstown branch of the IFA.
Last year, Paul's body began to reject the lungs and for almost a year he was a patient at the Mater.
Paul is survived by his heartbroken parents Margaret and Peter, brothers Patrick, Sean, Peter and Martin, and sister Sinead.