driving home

Young mother will be home for Christmas after Ireland's first ever heart-lung transplant

The operation was carried out during the summer. Adrianne Roberts will be discharged tomorrow.

737 Adrianne Roberts RTÉ Screengrab RTÉ Screengrab

A YOUNG MOTHER from Carlow who became the first ever patient to undergo a heart and lung transplant in Ireland is due to be discharged from hospital tomorrow.

Surgeon David Healy, speaking to this evening, said the operation would only be carried out for patients with a “very unique set of circumstances”.

Up till this year, Irish patients requiring the operation have been transferred to hospitals in the UK.

The HSE announced last year that heart-lung transplants would now be performed in Ireland – and Dr Healy, along with fellow surgeon and congenital heart disease expert Lars Nolke and their team – carried out the surgery at the Mater during the summer.

The transplant took 18 hours. Speaking to RTÉ News, the patient, 31-year-old Adrianne Roberts, said she was both excited and scared ahead of the surgery.

“I was lucky. I’m here to tell the tale. I haven’t been home in seven months, so I’m really looking forward to Christmas with my daughter and husband.

I can’t wait.

heal Dr David Healy RTÉ / Screengrab RTÉ / Screengrab / Screengrab

Dr Healy said the operation was most frequently carried out on patients with congenital heart and lung problems (ie. the problem is apparent from birth).

Often they will have had a number of operations before such a serious transplant is considered.

He said there were a generation of Irish patients who may be candidates for the operation in years to come. The increase can be attributed to improvements in how patients with congenital problems are treated in childhood.

“There are reasons why this isn’t done more frequently,” Dr Healy said – explaining that in most cases, a patient would require either a heart or a lung transplant.

It’s especially complicated, he observed, “because to do this operation we have to keep all the connections”.

The country’s first heart transplant was also carried out at the north Dublin hospital in 1985 – as was the first lung transplant, in 2005.

Around one such surgery – either heart or lung – is now carried out in the Mater each week, Healy said.

People who undergo the marathon operation require a long rehabilitation period. The fact that such surgeries can now be carried out in Ireland will mean less travelling for relatives – along with greater convenience for the patients themselves.

Read: Everything you need to know as Storm Eva lashes the country >

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