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Tuesday, November 24, 1998 Published at 18:01 GMT


High-level help for op man

Dermot Fenton was flown by government jet to Harefield Hospital

An Irishman with cystic fibrosis was flown to the UK by government jet for an urgent heart and lung transplant operation.

Dermot Fenton, 24, was told that he only had three and a half hours to get to London for the operation early last Friday.

He had been on the waiting list for a transplant for a year.

The only way of getting to the Harefield Hospital in Middlesex in time was by defence forces jet.

Consumer Affairs Minister Tom Kitt agreed to divert his Brussels-bound plane to London for the life-saving operation.

Mr Kitt presented Mr Fenton with a religious medal for good luck.

"It was practically a family heirloom, but he said we needed it more than him," said Mr Fenton.

He arrived at Harefield with his mother, Gobnait.


When he came round from the operation, his first request was for a pint of guinness - which he was not allowed.

Doctors at Harefield say he is making good progress. Mr Fenton says he feels he can now concentrate on the future and having the kind of active life his lung condition has prevented him from enjoying.

He needed the transplant because his lungs had deteriorated due to cystic fibrosis.

The inherited and incurable condition causes the exocrine glands to malfunction, leading to problems with breathing, digestion and reproduction.

It usually grows more severe with age and average life expectancy is 31 years.

Mr Fenton's heart was healthy and was given to another patient.

He says his last-minute dash shows the need for a heart and lung transplant centre in Ireland.

He says there are around 20 other cystic fibrosis sufferers waiting for heart and lung transplants in Ireland.

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