herald

Saturday 18 August 2018

Second shock for cystic fibrosis patients as Anita loses brave battle for life

FIGHTER: Tragedy of campaigner who challenged Harney over care

LEADING cystic fibrosis campaigner Anita Slowey has been hailed a true fighter following her death at the age of 24.

It was the second high-profile tragedy involving a CF patient in as many weeks following the death of 17-year-old Amy Lawler on January 27.

Anita lost her battle against the illness at St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin where she had been receiving treatment.

She came to prominence in October after writing an open letter to Mary Harney, the then health minister, highlighting inadequacies in the treatment of CF patients.

Anita, from Clones in Co Monaghan, drew attention to delays in constructing a dedicated CF unit at St Vincent's Hospital.

"While for the HSE our unit is just one more headache they want to avoid, their false promises have cost me personally both emotionally and physically -- even though I have survived.

"Every infection and sleepless night in St Vincent's Hospital has slowly robbed me of a little more lung power, a little more energy, a little more spirit, and the will to survive has been slowly eroded away," she wrote to Ms Harney.

Anita had campaigned for a special unit at the hospital giving CF patients their own rooms, which would reduce their exposure to infection from other patients.

She "enjoyed herself as much as she could and she lived as normal a life as she could," her sister Catherine told Joe Duffy's Liveline radio show.

Crazy

Her aunt Ann Adamson praised the young woman's "get up and go" attitude, revealing she had travelled the world in spite of her illness.

"Even a normal person with no sickness wouldn't have the same drive as her. She was a true fighter," Ms Adamson said.

Anita had recently become engaged to Dominic Mallinson.

Her funeral took place today after 11am Requiem Mass at the Sacred Heart Church in Clones.

Amy Lawler's mother Kathleen said her daughter was constantly at risk of infection in Irish hospitals and that the Irish health system was "crazy".

"We were always concerned about infection. It's kitting out the rooms with ensuites that's the major thing needed at the moment. In Vincent's they only have eight ensuite rooms, and the other patients have to go anywhere in any ward throughout the hospital. It's just a crazy system," Kathleen said.

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disease which damages the lungs and digestive system.

comurphy@herald.ie

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