Belfast Telegraph

Be inspired by my girl to be stem cell donors, says grieving dad

Eimear Gooderham
Eimear Gooderham
Eimear in hospital
Andrew Madden

By Andrew Madden

The heartbroken father of a Belfast woman who passed away after a brave battle with cancer has said he hopes his daughter's fight will inspire others to become stem cell donors.

Eimear Gooderham (25) died in hospital on Thursday after suffering multiple organ failure just a week after fulfilling her "last wish" of marrying her fiance Phillip.

Her father Sean told The Irish News she "never felt sorry for herself" throughout her illness.

He added: "She showed me how to die with dignity."

The west Belfast make-up artist was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, in 2016 aged 22.

She underwent 12 rounds of gruelling chemotherapy in a bid to combat the disease.

She was given the all-clear in spring 2017.

However, the cancer returned just a few weeks later.

Eimear underwent an autologous stem cell transplant, which involved being treated with her own stem cells and high doses chemotherapy.

Following a lengthy hospital stay she was able to return home with the disease in remission.

Last year, however, it returned and doctors said she required another stem cell transplant, but from a donor.

This prompted Sean to launch a campaign to raise awareness of the stem cell register and a match was found.

Eimear underwent surgery last year, however she suffered complications, leading to her death from organ failure this week.

Eimear was due to get married to Phillip in October.

But when she was told of her worsening condition, her family organised a wedding in hospital last Thursday.

"She used her mummy's wedding ring and Phillip used my wedding ring and it was just so special," Sean said.

"The next day we had a bit of a celebration in the hospital for them and even the next day we had a bit of a wedding cake, so she had a three-day wedding."

He aid that when doctors told him his daughter had multiple organ failure, she asked him: 'Am I going to die?'.

"She said 'it's unfair daddy', but she had no self-pity and said 'we have things to do'," he explained.

"We intend to give her the biggest send-off, a celebration of her life. She will be buried in her wedding dress. I may not have got to walk her down the aisle, but I will carry her up the aisle in her wedding dress."

Sean said that he hopes others will be inspired by his daughter's fight and decide to become organ donors.

"It would be a lovely honour for people to join the stem cell register, to do it in Eimear's name. It would mean the world to us if people join," he added.

People aged 30-35 can register to become stem cell donors via DKMS and those aged 16-30 can register via Anthony Nolan.

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