A 68-year-old Galway woman with an incurable respiratory disease has spoken of her devastation after being denied a double-lung transplant and told that she is to be left to die.
Teresa Kelly from Loughrea developed pulmonary fibrosis after metallic clips were implanted in her leg during surgery on her veins twelve years ago. She was highly allergic to nickel contained in the clips.
The mother-of-one says she was never consulted about the use of the clips, and did not know they were in her body until six-and-a-half years after the surgery. By that time, she had developed a number of incurable complications.
Ms Kelly was told last October that she would need a double-lung transplant, and underwent tests and preparation for the life-saving operation. However, she was told last month that the transplant would not be going ahead.
“I was brought by ambulance from Galway to Dublin especially for the doctor to tell me that he wasn’t doing my double-lung transplant, and he wouldn’t tell me why,” she said.
“So, I asked ‘Where does that leave me? Where do I go from here?’ He didn’t answer. I said ‘Am I just left to die?’ and he just nodded and said ‘Yes,’” recalled the Galway woman.
“He told me straight out that I have no other choice but that I am left to die, and he said my transplant wasn’t worth it. That is exactly what he said,” she added.
Ms Kelly has continued to ask medics in Galway and Dublin why she was refused a double-lung transplant, but says she has been met with silence and obfuscation.
She claims that doctors are unwilling to carry out a procedure that could highlight errors that were made in implanting the metallic clips, which ultimately resulted in her condition.
“They would rather see me die than expose their own mistakes,” she said. “And I am left without any answers. It is absolutely devastating.”
Ms Kelly, who has three grandchildren, underwent vascular surgery on her right leg in 2005, during which ten metallic clips were inserted and remained in her body. “They never told me and they never asked if I had an allergy,” she explained.
The allergic reaction to nickel in the clips resulted in an incurable autoimmune disease called ANCA vasculitis, which attacks the body’s own cells and tissues.
This resulted in recurring infections, and Ms Kelly was prescribed nitrofurantoin – an antibiotic usually employed only for short-term use. She remained on this medication for six-and-a-half years.
In 2011, she was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis – an incurable disease that causes scarring of the lungs. It is a known complication of long-term use of nitrofurantoin.
It was at this stage that the presence of the metallic clips in her leg was discovered. They were removed and the recurring infections abated.
“I just want them to tell me why they won’t do the double-lung transplant,” said Ms Kelly, who ran her own hairdressing business until 2008.
Last week, she wrote to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon Harris, seeking an explanation as to why she has been denied life-saving surgery and told that she is to be left to die. She is awaiting substantive replies.
A spokesperson for Saolta University Healthcare Group undertook to investigate the circumstances of the case, but later reverted to state that no comment could be provided in relation to individual patients.
A HSE spokesperson also refused to comment on the same basis, but advised that any patient with concerns about their care should contact their consultant directly.
Galway rowers aim for Olympic gold!
Best of luck to two Galway rowers – Aifric Keogh of Aill an Phréacháin in Na Forbacha, and Fiona Murtagh from Gortachalla in Moycullen – who are part of Team Ireland’s Women’s Coxless Fours team who compete in an Olympic final in Tokyo at 1.50am (Irish time) Wednesday.
Coverage on RTÉ 2 television begins from 1am.
Ireland – who were second in their heat after Australia, who set a new Olympic Record – are in lane two, with Great Britain on their outside, and Australia, favourites for a gold medal, in lane three.
The Netherlands, China and Poland are in lanes four, five and six at the Sea Forest Waterway.
Poor weather meant some rowing events were re-scheduled but the Women’s Fours final was not impacted.
Jim Keogh, Aifric’s father, told the Tribune he was hopeful ahead of the final.
“To make the Olympics is tough, to make the final is tough, to make the medal is tougher,” he said.
Photo: Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty.
*Full coverage of the race and reaction in this week’s Connacht Tribune and Galway City Tribune
Paedophile sentenced to a further 17 months in prison
A convicted paedophile, described by a Garda as ‘a prolific child abuser’, has had a 17-month prison sentence added to a 13-year sentence he is already serving for the rape and sexual abuse of children.
Disgraced primary school teacher and summer school bus driver, 69-year-old Seosamh Ó Ceallaigh, a native of Tuirín, Béal a’ Daingin, Conamara, had at all times denied two charges of indecently assaulting a ten-year-old boy at a Gaeltacht summer school in Béal a’ Daingin in 1979.
The offence carries a maximum two-year sentence.
A jury found him guilty by majority verdict following a four-day trial at Galway Circuit Criminal Court last month.
At his sentence hearing last week, Detective Paul Duffy described Ó Ceallaigh as a prolific child abuser who had amassed 125 child abuse convictions, committed while he was a primary school teacher in Dublin and while he operated an Irish language summer school in Beal a’ Daingin.
They included convictions for rape and sexual assault for which he is currently serving sentences totalling 13 years.
Those sentences were due to expire in August 2024, but last week, Judge Rory McCabe imposed two, concurrent 17-month sentences on Ó Ceallaigh, before directing the sentences begin at the termination of the sentences he is currently serving.
The judge noted Ó Ceallaigh’s denial and lack of remorse and the lifelong detrimental effect the abuse had on the victim as aggravating factors.
Dismay as marine park proposal rejected by planners
A lifeline project, with the potential to create around 200 long-term jobs in an area of South Connemara ravaged by unemployment and emigration, has been rejected by planners – primarily environmental grounds.
The proposed marine park or Páirc na Mara, east of Cill Chiaráin village, was viewed by many as a real chance to turn the tide for this unemployment blackspot.
Locals – and the vast majority of Galway West politicians – were supportive of the project which was viewed as one that would revitalise the area.
That said, Galway County Council’s decision to refuse permission for the marine park was welcomed by Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages which had expressed fears that the marine farm would extract huge amounts of fresh water to breed more than 1.5 million salmon smolts.
They said that millions of litres of fresh water would have been extracted on a regular basis by the salmon farm company operating the smolt rearing units – from the same lakes as the Carna and Cill Chiaráin water supply system.
“Local residents can now rest assured that their domestic water supply won’t be hijacked to line the pockets of people who have no regard for the local environment or residents,” said Billy Smyth, Chairman of Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages.
It was proposed to provide a marine innovation park Pairc na Mara on a 60-acre brownfield site at Cill Chiarain.
The development involves the provision of a number of marine-based facilities as well as education and research facilities in the townlands of Cill Chiarain, Ardmore and Calvary.
It involves the abstraction of water from Lough Scannan, its transfer to and temporary storage in Iron Lake along with impoundment and pumping to the Marine Park site with a rising main.
According to the application, Galway County Council has previously granted planning permission for aquaculture-based activities on the site of the proposed marine park back in 2002 while the first phase of the innovation park was built in 2005.
There were a considerable number of submissions supporting the application with many saying that this part of Connemara would benefit greatly from such a development.
But there were others who expressed concern over the potential impact it would have on the environment, and it would be located in a highly sensitive area.
Cllr Gerry King said that it was a valuable opportunity lost to the area given the amount of unemployment that exists. He added that there was local outrage at the decision.
The Fianna Fail councillor met with those behind the project and residents in support of the project. He said that they all agreed that this decision should be appealed to the higher planning authority.
It was refused on the basis that it would adversely affect the integrity and conservation objectives of the European sides in the vicinity of environmental value.
Planners stated that they could not be certain that the project would not adversely affect the integrity of Cill Ciaran Bay, the islands and Connemara bog complex
They also said that the Environmental Impact Assessment Report did not present a sufficient level of information on the impact it would have on human health, biodiversity, land, soil, water along with cultural heritage and the landscape.