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Fall from a horse leads to more serious diagnosis




If it wasn’t for a fall from a horse, a Tuam man could have found himself with a much bigger problem than just a sore back.

Because after the horse riding incident Sean Carter suffered not only backache, but also noticed a pain in his chest.

He went to see his company’s doctor after the fall, and the doctor asked him about his colouring. Confused, Sean questioned the doctor if he was an abnormal colour.

The doctor told him he was a bronzy-grey and that he would do one more test to check it out.

Because of the doctor’s observations Sean, who was 45 year old at the time, was diagnosed with haemochromatosis.

Haemochromatosis, or commonly known as the Celtic Mutation, is a genetic condition where a person absorbs an excessive amount of iron from their diet.

The iron is then stored in the body and it affects the liver, heart, pancreas, endocrine glands and causes pain in the joints.

The iron overload can lead to impaired function of those organs and eventually result in disease and organ failure.

Shockingly, more people in Ireland are affected by the disorder than in any other part in the world. About one in 86 people in Ireland have haemochromatosis, but one in five people carry the gene.

Since iron can build up slowly, symptoms might not appear until people hit 30 or 40 years old.

One indication of haemochromatosis is chronic fatigue, but when Sean experienced tiredness he just thought it came with his age.

“I would be nodding off while watching a rugby game even though I really wanted to watch the game. I thought it was just because I was in my forties,” he said.

Other indications include skin pigmentation, abdominal pain, arthritis and diabetes.

Since many of the symptoms can be found in other disorders, when arthritis affects just the first two finger joints there’s a high probability that it is haemochromatosis, according to the Irish Haemochromatosis Association

If the disorder is caught early, the treatment is rather simple.  A person gives blood a few times a year for life to remove the excess iron.

However, since Sean caught his later in his life he gave 65 pints of blood in just 70 weeks, but now he’s down to giving the normal amount.

Since Sean’s wife is a carrier of the gene, Sean made sure his four children were tested to see if they had the disorder.

One of them tested positive, but fortunately it was caught early enough that his son only had to give blood a few times a year.

Sean, who is now 66, said it’s incredible how many he knows who have the disorder.  Since it’s so common he finds important to educate the community.

“When we first started creating awareness about ten years ago people looked over and asked what haemochromatosis was. They couldn’t even pronounce it,” Sean said.

“Now people know about it because maybe their parents or someone has it. So we asked if they and their brothers and sisters have gotten tested and they haven’t.”

Since it’s a very simple test, Sean believes people should get tested for their own health.


€3bn plan for new hospitals at Merlin Park

Denise McNamara



How the 200-bed elective hospital may 'fit' into the grounds of Merlin Park Hospital.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A 1,150-bed acute hospital and a separate 200-bed elective hospital at Merlin Park – costing in the region of €3 billion and taking up to 15 years to deliver – are included in a new report on health infrastructure needs for Galway.

A review of hospital requirements has produced ambitious proposals for the elective hospital – costing around €1.2bn and taking a decade to build – and acute hospital to replace UHG which would take 15 years to deliver.

The so-called ‘options appraisal’ conducted on behalf of the Saolta University Health Care Group concluded that separating acute and planned services – through the development of a purpose-built elective facility – will greatly improve efficiency and patient access by reducing waiting times and cancellations.

It will allow the Saolta Hospital Group to significantly increase the level of day surgery and reduce length of stay for patients.

Currently there are 46,000 people on a waiting list between the two hospitals with a further 14,000 patients travelling to Dublin from the Saolta region every year for treatment.

“The demand capacity gap will grow to a shortfall of 276 beds at Galway University Hospitals [UHG and Merlin combined] alone. Do nothing is not an option,” consultants KPMG wrote.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

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Minister gives go-ahead to army accommodation plan




The USAC complex in Renmore, which is set to be redeveloped.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A 50-year-old building at Dún Uí Mhaoilíosa in Renmore is to be renovated to provide additional accommodation for members of the Defence Forces, the Minister for Defence has confirmed.

Minister Paul Kehoe (FG) told the Dáil that the former University Students Administrative Complement (USAC) complex would be redesigned to accommodate 120 persons living in single rooms.

“The rooms are fitted out to a basic standard and ablution facilities are provided communally. The building is nearly 50 years old and does not meet current standards with respect to building constriction methodology, fire prevention measures and energy efficiency,” said Minister Kehoe.

While currently in its early design stages, it is expected that construction work would commence late next year, he added.

USAC is a purpose-built facility constructed in the 1970s to accommodate Officers of the Defence Forces undertaking courses at third level institutes in Galway.

While located adjacent to the barracks in Renmore, it is outside the confines of the barracks and is self-contained with its own access and parking.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

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Taskforce gets down to work in Ballybane

Enda Cunningham



Aoife Tully having fun in Ballybane Playground.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Ballybane Task Force is on a mission.

Since the cooperative made up of all major stakeholders set up two years ago, they have set themselves the goal of highlighting the positive work in train in the eastern suburb while providing support for community, voluntary and residents’ groups that currently operate.

They also want to encourage the participation of all locals – new and long-term – in activities while giving support to developing projects and initiatives.

Already the Task Force has spearheaded some tangible results. Last week, a homework club for secondary school students opened and an afterschool service for primary students will begin in January following the recruitment of staff.

There was further good news earlier this year with the redevelopment of the derelict Ballybane Neighbourhood Centre. It is set to be transformed into a revitalised enterprise centre, scheduled to be open in January.

One of the first tasks the group pursued was to identify gaps in resources and services across Ballybane and lay out a blueprint for action.

They secured funding to appoint a consultant to review this in depth and make recommendations.

The results of that needs analysis have just been published. Its overview of the area’s deprivation makes for stark reading.

Ballybane is described as the area where the older housing estates are bordered by Ballybane Road, Monivea Road and the Dublin Road, but excluding the Doughiska development.

It has a male unemployment rate of 25% or over – compared to a 15% average in the city – a lone parent rate of 35% or higher (24% in the city) and a 35% rate of children leaving school in the early years of secondary school (17%). Just one fifth go onto third level, compared to half elsewhere in the city.

This is a preview only. To read the rest of this feature on the regeneration of ballybane, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

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