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This Sligo great-grandmother is now the longest-surviving lung transplant recipient in the world

Vera Dwyer was given days to live in 1988.

Vera Dwyer
Vera Dwyer

A SLIGO WOMAN who was given just days to live in 1988 has entered the record books as the longest-surviving lung transplant recipient in the world.

Vera Dwyer, who developed fibrosis alveolitis (progressive thickening of the walls of the air sacs of the lungs), underwent a pioneering lung transplant operation in the Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospital in London in 1988 after her lungs began to fail with only days to live.

Vera celebrated her entry into the Guinness Book of World Records at the launch of Transplant360 a new web resource for people who have undergone an organ transplant.

She was one of the first to undergo the ground-breaking single lung transplant surgery in Harefield Hospital 26 years ago, and was one of three people to receive an organ from a 24-year-old female donor, whose other lung and heart went to two other recipients who have since passed away.

7069 Vera Dwyer, lung transplant recipient, with three generations of her family, daughter Linda Kiernan, great-grand daughter Leah Carmody and granddaughters Amy Kiernan and Sarah Kiernan

Vera says that she owed a debt to her donor to remain healthy.

“Before my diagnosis I was healthy, fit and played for the County Roscommon Camogie team. I never smoked a day in my life. I was devastated to learn that my two lungs were failing but I was given one chance and I grabbed it.

I owed it to my donor to do everything in my power to look after myself after transplantation by following a healthy lifestyle with exercise, eating well and managing my medication.

“I have lived to raise my four young children at the time, and see them grow up to have their own children and I now even have a great-grandchild, Leah, who is now three. It is a wonderful gift for which I am forever grateful.”

The online resource for people who have undergone an organ transplant, Transplant360.com, has been launched to provide long-term health advice and support.

The initiative, sponsored by pharmaceutical company Astellas, aims to be a focal point for the entire transplant community, including patients, carers and healthcare professionals, to promote long-term health after receiving an organ transplant.

Read: Remembering Alan Feeley – ‘Life is so fragile but he left the world in a better place’

Read: ‘I am alive because somebody decided to be an organ donor, a hero, my hero’

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