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The gift of life that’s born from a death

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Lifestyle –  Judy Murphy meets a brave young woman who received a liver transplant

Saranne Flaherty rang the Claregalway Hotel on Monday of the Galway Races in July 2011 to tell her employers that she was sick and couldn’t come in.

The 20-year-old was worried that they’d be annoyed with her for calling in sick on their busiest week of the year.  As it happened, that soon became the least of her worries. Within months she was crucially ill, waiting for a liver transplant.

Saranne, who had been diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder two years previously, had been complaining of abdominal pains over that weekend in July 2011.

Initially she reckoned it was a pulled muscle, but her doctor referred her to UHG. He was worried she might have a clot on her lung, because of the location of the pain. From UHG she was sent to Merlin Park where she spent two and a half weeks, undergoing CAT scans and MRIs to try and locate the cause of the problem.

Eventually she was told that there was a clot on the hepatic vein, leading into her liver, and it was causing a blockage – a rare condition known as Budd-Chiari syndrome. It was caused by a combination of her auto-immune condition, which results in excessive bleeding, and the contraceptive pill which she was taking for menstrual problems.

Two attempts to surgically remove the clot here in Galway failed and Saranne was told she would have to go to Dublin’s St Vincent’s Hospital, or possibly to Birmingham for further treatment.

That was late August, by which time the pain had abated. Because she didn’t display all the symptoms of the condition, and since her liver was still functioning, she was sent home. But she knew this was a temporary respite and by late October, the pain returned. In addition, her stomach started swelling up and she became very sick.

In November Saranne was sent to St Vincent’s for a non-surgical procedure known as TIPS which creates new connections to the veins serving the liver. Had it succeeded, it would have removed the need for surgery.

The procedure was delayed when she got an infection, so it didn’t take place until three weeks later. During that time, she kept hearing the specialists say that TIPS would solve her problems “if” it worked. She didn’t dwell too much on what would happen if it didn’t.

Her mother, Patricia, spent most of her time with Saranne – fortunately for her daughter, she was a nurse and understood most of what was going on. They were lucky in that Patricia is originally a Dubliner and could stay in her family home. Saranne’s father, Gerry, was also there but he found it especially tough, she recalls.

The first thing Saranne asked when she woke up after the TIPS procedure was ‘did it work?’ only to be told it hadn’t.

“There was a nurse at the end of my bed preparing her notes, so I thought this is bad,” Saranne recalls.

By now it was early December and she was very sick. Her liver and kidneys had started to fail, because all the other veins in her liver had also clotted. She was moved to Intensive Care where she was put on a dialysis machine and fed via a tube.

On the third of December, 2011, Saranne’s specialist told her she needed a liver transplant. She asked how long she’d be in hospital waiting for this and was told it could be “days, weeks or months”.

“By then I was too sick to care and I said ‘do whatever’,” she says.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

 

Connacht Tribune

Unique pilgrim talking the walk

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Breandan will give a talk on his pilgrimage this Sunday evening at Clifden's Station House Theatre with all proceeds going to the Irish Cancer Society. PHOTO: JOE O'SHAUGHNESSY.

Lifestyle – Breandan Ó Scanaill returned to Clifden last month after a six-month pilgrimage on foot from his home on Beach Road to Santiago de Compostela – a journey of some 3,500km that took him across Ireland, Wales, England, France and Northern Spain. In his final column for  The Connacht Tribune, he reflects on his experiences and the people he met.

Having travelled through Ireland Wales and England, by the time I reached central France in mid-Summer, the temperature was getting hotter by the day.

I’d say it topped 40 degrees on several occasions, but was in the high 30s almost every day.  I managed to keep walking, and found myself thinking of the old song, which I changed one word of, “Mad dogs and Irishmen go out in the mid-day sun”. I probably was mad to be doing this but I was being very careful.  I was drinking around six or seven litres of water each day and anywhere I found water I would pour it over my head.  I also had a light towel around my neck which I kept wet at all times, while my wide-brimmed hat kept the worst of the sun off my head and face.  I would shelter from the heat for an hour or so in the mid-afternoon.

This heat the fires which were raging just ahead of me in France were constant worries and on a number of days the paths were closed and I had to take to small roads to move forward.

One of the hottest and strangest days was just north of Bordeaux.  I was walking in a forest which was not closed but which had warnings about the risk of fire.  It had all the feeling of a Hitchcock film.  Nothing stirred, there was no breeze, no insects, no animals and the heat radiated up from the ground.  The grass and leaves below my feet cracked and broke, they were so dry. I was completely alone and I was fully expecting someone to come emerge from the bushes armed with a large knife.

I finally arrived in Bordeaux to be given the expected bad news, all the trails south were closed and it was against the law for anyone to be found crossing that part of the country. There were a number of reasons for this. One was the obvious risk to life, another was that anyone embarking on these trails was putting the fire fighters’ lives at risk and also taking them away from their main task, which was trying to control the blaze.  A further reason was that as thousands of people had been evacuated, homes were at risk of being looted.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

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Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Galway in Days Gone By

Galway In Days Gone By

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A little girl celebrates Sarsfields’ success in the County Hurling Final in 1997.

1922

The ‘pay-nobodies’

The righteous wrath of members of Galway County Council very properly manifested itself against the “pay nobodies” at the meeting on Saturday last.

“I am quite satisfied,” declared Dr. Walsh, “that numbers of people who defend the policy of not paying rates are thoroughly dishonest.”

Mr. Kennedy said the policy to-day was to pay nobody and the people who were in debt themselves “wanted everybody else to be in the same position”.

Mr. Tierney invoked the dictum of the Irish Hierarchy in regard to the payment of just and lawful debts. Verily, “there are greater thieves than Cacus” – men who have such noble and patriotic notions that, to their mind, national freedom is synonymous with freedom from just and lawful obligations. It is time the people paid their rates and debts and gave up their outworn cant.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Guru to the stars to breathe life into seminar

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Patrick McKeown

Health, Beauty and Lifestyle with Denise McNamara

Patrick McKeown has some rather high-profile followers. The Galway clinician – who runs one of the largest breathing schools in the world from his Moycullen clinic – can count Coldplay singer Chris Martin and his ex-wife Gwyneth Paltrow, the Oscar-winning actress turned lifestyle entrepreneur, as followers.

It was the rock star who made headlines when he gave a copy of Patrick’s book The Oxygen Advantage to cricketer Ollie Robinson after the England team saw Coldplay at Wembley before their Test series against South Africa.

Gwyneth, who has over eight million followers in Instagram, last week posted online that she is using Mytotape, the product Patrick invented in his Moycullen practice which aims to train people to breathe through the nose while sleeping rather than through the mouth.

“This is probably the single best wellness tool I have found recently. Breathing through your nose at night apparently creates alkalinity in the body and promotes best quality sleep,” she exclaimed.

Patrick is one of six speakers at the international Functional Medicine Conference (FMC) held this weekend at the Galway Bay Hotel where doctors and nurses, complementary medicine practitioners and students convene to hear from experts, share experiences and network.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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