Belfast Telegraph

Pioneer patient plans for future

A young woman who made medical history is finally making plans for the future after her life-saving world-first operation.

Becky Jones, 20, became the first patient to have a lung transplant while suffering from multi-resistant Aspergillus, a common airborne fungus, and multiple fungal balls in her lungs.

But the ground-breaking operation at University Hospital of South Manchester (UHSM) came after an anxious 14-month wait for a donor match.

After the call from the hospital came on May 29, an ambulance was at the front door of her family home in Castleknock, Dublin, within half an hour.

She was rushed to an army airport and flown by helicopter to Manchester Airport where an ambulance was waiting on the tarmac to rush her to the hospital in Wythenshawe, south Manchester.

"I was nervous but also delighted I was going to get it done," Miss Jones said. "I didn't have time to panic."

Aspergillus is a large number of diseases involving both infection and growth of fungus as well as allergic responses. Lung transplant patients have never before been able to have the operation while suffering from either of these conditions.

The operation took nearly 11 hours, but she is now hoping to be discharged from hospital next week. She will then rest and recuperate in Manchester for a few weeks as a precaution and for further treatment as an outpatient.

Miss Jones was not well enough to sit exams and missed most of her last year at Mount Sackville School in Chapelizod, Dublin, but she now plans to take up her education again and hopes one day to have a career as a fashion designer.

But while Miss Jones is now planning her future, she is ever mindful and thankful to the anonymous donor who has changed her life. "It is the most selfless, humane thing to do. I can't tell you how grateful I am," she added.

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