Vaccine Gives Teen Narcolepsy

A Southside Dublin teenager who developed narcolepsy is enduring a living nightmare as a result of the sleep disorder.

The life of Knocklyon schoolgirl Orla Kelly Murtagh has been turned upside down by the condition which is believed to have been caused by the swine flu vaccine Pandemrix, which she received in 2009.

Orla, who was a bright and sporty teenage girl, now needs to retire to a special room in school to sleep twice a day, despite being on a high dosage of medication to keep her condition at bay.

According to Orla’s mother, Aoife Kelly, the condition has taken over almost all aspects of her daughter’s life.

“A few weeks after she got the vaccine she started to sleep a lot more,” she said.  Then she developed the muscle reflex called Cataplexy where she would suffer a sudden loss of muscle tone that would cause her to collapse.

“We worried that it was motor neuron disease. That was a real low point for us. As a parent you feel so helpless.”

There followed months of tests and a process of elimination to identify the root of Orla’s medical condition, which was eventually diagnosed as narcolepsy.

The condition, which is very rare among children, is characterized by periods of extreme drowsiness, sudden naps, hallucinations and paralysis attacks.

 “Prior to getting the vaccine, Orla was a very active and promising young hockey player but now she’s dropped down the teams,” Aoife explained.

“Sometimes when she thinks she’s up for training we’ll drive there and she’ll fall asleep in the car and miss the whole practice session.”

She is also struggling in school, where she has the assistance of a special needs assistant.

“She misses the last class before lunch so she can sleep and then another class after lunch,” Aoife said.

“The school has been incredibly supportive and accommodating so she goes to the nurse’s station where there’s a bed and a blanket with her name on it.

“We were adamant that we didn’t want her to sleep through lunch because she would miss out on the social aspect of school.”

A report commissioned by the Department of Health earlier this year found the increased incidence of narcolepsy in children and adolescents in Ireland from 2009 was associated with vaccination with Pandemrix.

Aoife Kelly is angry that her daughter will now have to live with this condition for the rest of her life through no fault of her own.

“I try not to think too far ahead because I’ll go out of my mind,” she admitted. “I never, ever thought we’d be in this situation where we would have to worry about our daughter’s long-term care and how she’ll be supported.”

Aoife and her daughter are members of lobby group SOUND (Sufferers of Unique Narcolepsy Disorder), which is calling for the minister for health to honor a commitment that a package of supports for those affected would be put to the government. 

Dublin People

Teddies Stolen From Grave

The grieving mother of a little girl who lived for one day is heartbroken after teddies were stolen from her daughter’s grave.

Mary McCarthy’s first child, Skylar, died just over 10 weeks ago from congenital diaphragmatic hernia.  The Hospital woman and her partner, Anthony, visit Skylar’s grave every Saturday in Kilteely cemetery.

“Last Saturday we went down at 1 p.m. to discover that all her teddies were stolen off the grave,” McCarthy told a radio show.

“We had taken another teddy down with ‘I love you’ written on it,” she added.

They placed that teddy in the graveyard but when they returned at 6 p.m. it was gone as well.

“I was heartbroken. It is just cruel to do something like that. We are very upset over the whole thing,” said McCarthy.

The pain of losing their daughter has been compounded by these thefts, she said.

“She was only a day old. It was very traumatic. We are only coming to the state now that we realize that we don’t have her,” McCarthy said.

“I was told I was having a healthy little baby. I didn’t know anything until after I was sectioned and I was told the baby was critical. It has been awful, we have been through enough.”

There were numerous teddies placed at the grave by the two families, Skylar’s godmother and little cousins.

“Words cannot describe what we are going through and still going through, and will be for the rest of our lives. “It was helping us every Saturday when we used to go down there, and then to realize that all her little teddies were gone.  There wasn’t anything touched bar the teddies,” said McCarthy, who thinks it was teenagers that stole them.

Limerick Leader

Gaza’s Irish Twin

Moyle's twinning arrangement with Gaza has been withdrawn after a Sinn Fein motion calling for support for the region backfired.

The issue unfolded at Moyle District Council's meeting on Monday, November 27, where Sinn Fein’s Colum Thompson highlighted the “renewed indiscriminate air and ground attacks from Israel, into our twin the Municipality of Gaza.” He asked Moyle District Council to express its “total repulsion at these actions and reiterate our solidarity with the besieged people of Gaza.”

This immediately prompted a raft of protests from Unionist councilors led by Robert McIlroy, who said that “we are dealing with terrorists” and “we should not be associated with that.” He called on the council to withdraw from its 'alignment' with Gaza.

Independent councilor Paudie McShane, the architect of the twinning arrangement, said he was “disappointed” by the motion as the twinning was a humanitarian rather than a political gesture.  At his request, the Sinn Fein motion was withdrawn.

In spite of protests from the party and McShane, who branded the situation “unbelievable,” a vote to withdraw from the twinning arrangement was then pushed through.

McShane immediately branded the decision “disgusting for the children of Gaza.”  Afterwards, he accused Sinn Fein of putting “their own egos ahead of what is right by Gaza.” “The motion by Councilor Thompson should not have been placed on the agenda given I had personally warned Sinn Fein of the repercussions of their stunt ten days ago.”

McShane added that the Antrim to Gaza Group will continue to implement the terms of the twinning agreement given it was a permanent twinning mechanism. “This vote changes nothing," he said.

Ballycastle Chronicle

Dog Attack

AN elderly blind man and his guide dog in Whitehead were left to fend for themselves as another dog running off its lead attacked them, only for the female owner to walk away without offering any assistance.

The man was walking his guide dog in the area of Garden Village on a recent evening when the incident occurred.  He was knocked to the ground between two parked cars while the owner of the attacking dog walked away. He spent several minutes unable to get up and eventually gained the attention of two passing women who helped him to his feet.

The man declined an interview. Relatives said he was left shaken by the attack but has now regained the confidence to take his daily walks around the area again with his guide dog who remained unharmed. 

The woman involved sustained a head and wrist injury in an attempt to restrain her dog but has since came forward to offer an apology to the man and his family.

Guide Dogs Northern Ireland stressed the importance of dog control to owners and suggested a change in the law to for stiffer punishments in future attacks. 

"This was a very upsetting experience for the guide dog owner. On average across the U.K., eight guide dogs are attacked every month by other dogs,” spokesperson Pete Swan said.

“Blind and partially sighted people rely on their guide dogs to get out and about, and these attacks can leave them a virtual prisoner in their own home. We want the law changed across the UK to enable the authorities to treat an attack on a guide dog and other assistance dogs as an attack on a person, in recognition of the full impact of these attacks."

Carrick Advertiser

Taxi drivers held a protest in Dublin on Monday, calling on the government to enter into discussion with them before they implement their key actions on the future of taxi regulation.Photocall Ireland