Veronica Doyle, a 56-year-old mother-of-three, received the first lung transplant in the history of the Republic in the Mater Hospital in Dublin.
Speaking at a press conference, the 14-year emphysema sufferer thanked the lead transplant surgeon, Freddie Wood, respiratory consultant Jim Egan and Mater Hospital CEO Martin Cowley.
Describing how the transplant had changed her life, Doyle spoke of how she had to wear an oxygen mask 24 hours a day and found it difficult to walk the short distance from her front door to her front gate without pause or help prior to the transplant, which took place May 12.
She paid tribute to her three children, thanked her donor for giving her a second chance at life, and appealed to members of the Irish public to carry donor cards.
“Donors are the single most important factor in the number of lung transplants we can administer,” said a spokesperson for the Mater Hospital.
“With additional funding, we hope to be able to perform up to 15 lung transplants each year.”
Speaking to the Irish Times, health minister Mary Harney wished Doyle and her family well.
“I understand that Veronica has recovered well and is going home today and I would like to wish her all the best for the future.
“The successful performance of the first lung transplant in Ireland represents a major achievement for all concerned, and I congratulate the entire multi-disciplinary team at the national heart and lung transplant unit at the mater hospital,” she said.
The Lung Transplantation Unit in the Mater Hospital looks after more than 250 post transplant heart patients each year.
Now it will also monitor Veronica Doyle’s progress.
Five heart transplants have taken place in 2005, and the unit has been equipped to carry out lung transplants since last October. There are currently 19 patients awaiting lung transplants.