28 Jun 2022

Longford’s Care Champion needs your support ahead of rare life-saving transplant surgery

Longford’s Care Champion needs your support ahead of rare life-saving transplant surgery

A campaign is underway to assist Longford woman Majella Beattie as she prepares herself for rare life-saving double transplant surgery.

Majella, the founder of well known advocacy group Care Champions and an award winning volunteer, now needs your support as she has to undergo an abdominal wall and bowel transplant at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

At the weekend, Majella, via her Twitter account @Majellabeattie1, highlighted how she and her husband Tom made their wedding vows six years earlier.

“My husband joked, I had done the ‘in sickness or in health’ bit with my coma two years before!

“Now, we are facing a rare double transplant to give me a fighting chance at a quality of life. How lucky am I to have the best husband and friends.”

Majella continued, “I’m very privileged to be able to go to John Radcliffe Hospital and have this extraordinary opportunity! I’m thankful for medical research (and there is) no point in doing things by half! I will be one of a few in the world to have this transplant.

“I’ve not eaten since February 14, 2021. It seems my body likes dramatics. Each day at the moment is hugely challenging and painful but I believe in positivity and gratitude. If you want to follow my journey, I’ve a Facebook page (called ‘Majella’s Journey to Transplant’) and I’d be delighted to share the ups and downs and laughs with you.”

Majella was just 13 when she developed a tumour in her left leg, requiring a number of operations and radiotherapy. While the tumour went away, it reared its ugly head again when she was 27.

It was a considerable size meaning she couldn’t stand up without assistance. Five arduous operations, along with intensive radiotherapy and chemotherapy followed over a period of almost four years before Majella managed to walk again.

Unfortunately, the treatment led to complications in her bowel, and in 2014, it ruptured; she developed sepsis and ended up in a coma for 11 days in St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin. She also ended up with kidney failure and was put on dialysis.

Majella’s diet has been very restricted ever since and she also has been left with holes in her abdominal wall that can’t be closed as she is considered inoperable.

An abdominal wall and bowel transplant is extremely rare, with approximately 50 people in the world having had the operation.

Majella recently visited Oxford Transplant Centre at the John Radcliffe Hospital where she also met renowned transplant surgeon, Professor Henke Giele. And she is very upbeat about her ‘fighting chance at a quality of life’.

Majella’s cousin, Mary Bohan, has started a gofundme page called ‘Majella’s Journey to Transplant’ and she has asked people to consider donating ‘as every little helps and will take the financial pressure off Majella at this time’.

Mary explained that Majella is facing life-saving rare double transplant surgery that cannot be done in Ireland.

“There will be a lot of additional travel, accommodation and care costs for some time. Majella will have to stay in Oxford for some time post surgery. She has a rare illness and has had numerous surgeries, chemo and radiotherapy.

“Majella needs this life-saving opportunity urgently and we are delighted that the renowned Professor Henk Giele and the Oxford transplant Clinic team will be performing the procedure.”

Majella’s friend Mairead Fulham said there are very few people in the world who have had the surgery that Majella is going to have.

“She needs an abdominal wall and bowel transplant. There are huge expenses in travelling back and forth to Oxford. We expect that she will have to stay in Oxford for some time post surgery and will have to stay somewhere local to the hospital.

We have set up a go fund me and would really appreciate if you would share it

“We are also reaching out to anyone who wants to help the team to set up a fundraiser or event as this is going to be a long and arduous journey for Majella and her husband Tom and this is one way in which we can help support her at this time.”

Last month, Majella was presented with the Covid-19 Response Award at the Volunteer Ireland Awards.

Saying she was ‘absolutely honoured to accept the award’, Majella said Care Champions, which she established in 2018 and has given her time voluntarily to ever since, “is simply people helping people, supporting and advocating with and for each other!”

Care Champions is an advocacy group for people who require care support in the community and it campaigns for residents in care homes.

Throughout the pandemic, Majella has been an advocate for older adults in residential care, as well as the families and staff impacted by Covid-19.

She was a listening ear for hundreds of bereaved families through dedicated telephone support, while working closely with over 40 nursing home staff as they navigated the challenges and trauma of Covid-19.

Majella engages with the families of adults in care, allowing their experiences to shape the policy recommendations she brings to the senior health officials, TDs and Senators she collaborates with.

Majella’s passion for ensuring support for people in care has ensured many families have had safe access to their loved ones during the pandemic, as well as facilitating compassionate and end-of-life visits.

Majella’s development of the Care Champions online campaign has brought together a virtual community of over 6,000 people who follow her unwavering campaign for support and awareness.

Majella says she has been floored by the kindness of people that have engaged with her Facebook page, many of whom she does not know. “It just shows there is goodness all around us, If we choose to look for it.”

She is also a determined fighter. “No matter how hard it is right now, however hard the battle is, it will turn right around.

When I was 13 and got sick first we were told 6 months to live, years of horrific surgeries, treatment, coma, death predictions that never happened.

“We all have a purpose. I believe for me that Oxford will give me a lifeline again and we will grab it, live and appreciate it.”

Support ‘Majella’s Journey to Transplant’

You can support Majella Beattie by contributing to the gofundme page called ‘Majella’s Journey to Transplant’ and you can also follow Majella’s journey on ‘Majella’s Journey to Transplant’ on Facebook.

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