An Irish great-grandmother has earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest single lung transplant survivor.
Vera Dwyer, 73, from Ballinafad, Co. Sligo, was the first to undergo a lung transplant in the Harefield Hospital in Middlesex, England, 26 years ago. She also underwent a kidney transplant five years ago, which she was able to have in Ireland.
The mother of four and grandmother of six is delighted to be a world record holder.
“I’m over the moon because I’ve pushed my way, not only to see my kids grow up, but also to meet my grandchildren and, wonderfully, a great grandchild Leah, who will be three-years-old next week,” Dwyer said.
At the age of 47 her survival was a race against the clock, but the life-giving power of organ transplantation carried her through another quarter of a century and into the record books.
She has been officially certified as “the longest-surviving single lung transplant recipient in the world” by the Guinness Book of Records.
Before she was diagnosed with a condition called fibrosis alveolitis, a progressive thickening of the walls of the air sacs of the lungs, Dwyer was healthy, fit and played for the Co. Roscommon camogie team.
“I never smoked a day in my life. I was devastated to learn that my two lungs were failing but I was given one chance [transplantation] and I grabbed it,” she said.
At the time of her transplant Dwyer said her husband, Michael, and four young children -- Paul, Della, Linda and the youngest, Finbarr, who was 11 at the time -- kept her going.
She said then, “Trying to stay alive for them, that’s what kept me going. When I got them reared, I wanted to see them get married. Then I wanted to see my grandchildren. Now I have six grandchildren -- Amy, Cillian, Eoin, Evan, James and Sara -- and I want to see my great-grandchildren. I am pushing the goals out further again.”
Dwyer was one of three persons to receive an organ from a 24-year-old female donor, whose other lung and heart went to two other recipients who have since passed away.
In expressing her ongoing gratitude and in celebration of her entry into the Guinness Book of Records, Dwyer is helping to launch www.Transplant360.com, a web resource which provides information and tips for transplant recipients, their carers and healthcare professionals.