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Dublin: 5 °C Sunday 29 March, 2020

A new breath of life for Dublin woman after double-lung transplant

20 year old Becky Jones, who has cystic fibrosis, has made history by undergoing a transplant after developing a fungus in her airways due to an allergy.

Becky Jones, who underwent a historic double-lung transplant in Manchester in May.
Becky Jones, who underwent a historic double-lung transplant in Manchester in May.
Image: University Hospital of South Manchester

A YOUNG DUBLIN woman has made history by becoming the first patient with multi-resistant Aspergillus to have a lung transplant.

Becky Jones is just 20 but she had already been diagnosed with having multiple fungal balls in her old lungs before her operation.

The young woman said she feels wonderful after the transplant, which took place on May 29 this year at UHSM (University Hospital of South Manchester).

Becky was airlifted from her home in Dublin by helicopter for the operation.

She had been on the waiting list for over a year and was accepted for transplant only because the hospital at Wythenshawe also houses the National Aspergillosis Centre. This centre specialises in the treatment of multi-resistant Aspergillus infection.

Becky said:

Words simply cannot begin to describe the pure relief I feel. The chains have been lifted; I can breathe! I can’t, for the life of me, remember feeling so well!

The Castleknock native now plans to do lots of things that may have seemed impossible to her before – travel and study fashion design at college.

“The world is officially my oyster,” she said.

Professor David Denning, who is Director of the National Aspergillosis Centre, explained that Becky’s transplant brings together a remarkable set of expertises; in fungal infection, molecular testing, advanced transplantation techniques (Becky did not go on heart lung bypass) and intensive care, all under one roof.

“With increasing antifungal resistance since 2004, she is a courageous torchbearer for others,” he commented.

Becky has cystic fibrosis and became allergic to the airborne fungus Aspergillus.

The fungus grew in her damaged airways to form 10 large fungal balls (aspergillomas), which had never been seen before, and although she was treated with an antifungal drug, the fungus developed resistance.

This is something becoming more common in patients referred to the National Aspergillosis Centre.

Becky is now on preventative antifungal agents, to minimise the risk of life-threatening invasive aspergillosis, which is common after lung transplantation because of immune suppression to prevent rejection.

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