A big-hearted benefactor stepped in to fly a desperately ill woman in need of a double-lung and heart transplant to the UK on Monday.
The HSE refused to supply an air ambulance for Isabel Terry, who requires oxygen 24 hours a day as a result of a condition known as pulmonary atresia.
She faced a gruelling 12-hour journey by car and ferry to an appointment with her transplant team in Newcastle after the HSE turned down her plea for an air ambulance.
The 42-year old from Bishopstown in Cork could not take a scheduled flight to Britain because of the amount of liquid oxygen she would need to take along to keep her alive.
She told the Neil Prenderville Show on Cork’s Red FM: “I would have needed to bring six litres of oxygen and I can’t fly on a regular airline with six litres. It’s classed as liquid and you can’t bring much liquid on a flight.
“I was talking to Newcastle (hospital) and every second day I’d ring and they’d heard nothing back and I suggested about a month or so ago about getting a ferry and they said ‘absolutely no, it’s far too long for you to do that’.
“Newcastle were on to be about two weeks ago saying they were getting nowhere with the HSE and ‘so sorry we think you’re going to have to make that trip on the ferry… we need to see you, it’s been three years’.
“Then the other day I got a call, someone offered me a private plane. They want to stay anonymous which you understand and I’m going to Newcastle Monday evening.”
Isabel has spent almost 14 years on a transplant waiting list for a rare double-lung and heart transplant surgery and feared she might miss out if she failed to keep her appointment.
She added: “I’ve been deteriorating in the last two years and the Newcastle team hadn’t seen me so it’s very important for me to see them.
“I don’t know, hand on my heart, on Thursday will I come out of the hospital and be told ‘we have to take you off the list you’re not well enough to the operation’.
“When you’re waiting for a transplant you need to be well enough to have it. If you are too sick they won’t do it because it could potentially… if they think you won’t make it through… not being mean or anything, it’s wasting a heart.”
Isabel, who hasn’t travelled by air for years, recently found she had no passport and she praised gardai and the passport office in Cork for helping her obtain the vital travel document in a matter of hours.