Mother’s joy as transplant recipients move up vaccination list

A Ballinlough mother says she is “relieved beyond words” following a successful online campaign to have transplant recipients like her young daughter moved up the Covid-19 vaccination priority list.

Bernie Osgood’s 17-year-old daughter, Rebecca Osgood-Daly, was just two-years-old when she contracted E Coli, which led to her receiving a kidney transplant in 2010.

Mother-of-three Bernie, who donated a kidney to Rebecca, was part of a large campaign over the last number of months which has led to transplant recipients aged from 16 to 18 moving from group fifteen to group four in the list.

The young family have been cocooning since the arrival of Covid-19 last March because Rebecca has been on strong immunosuppressant medication since the transplant.

“I’m over the moon. I just have no words for the relief we are feeling. Rebecca now has a good chance of being vaccinated and back in school by September,” Bernie said.

“There was always a danger of organ rejection and with the medication she is on she can get very sick and is very susceptible to infection during normal times.

“Since March of last year, Rebecca and the rest of the family have been cocooning at home. Both she and her brother Conor (11) have been learning from home while her sister Lauren (19) had to move out to go to college. We don’t go anywhere except for our walks and we have our shopping delivered.

“It has been tough but it’s tougher on Rebecca because she has been completely isolated.

“Rebecca’s doctors and GP had told me that transplant recipients would be moved up the list but when nothing happened in the New Year I began to get very agitated,” she said.

“I emailed so many TDs. I told them that when she was sixteen she was transferred from Temple Street to Beaumont Hospital. So on one hand she was being treated like an adult and in other ways she had been disregarded because she was way down the list.

“I received an email back from Roisin Shortall TD and she said she would be raising the question with the Tánaiste Leo Vardkar. Local TD Denis Naughten also voiced our concerns in the Dáil,” Bernie added.

While the Tánaiste agreed to raise the issue with Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Tony Holohan, there was still no sign of movement in January of this year.

Bernie decided to take her campaign to social media and this resulted in over 4,000 letters being sent to TDs across the country.

“I used social media to start a campaign to support other kids in the same position.

“I’ve watched every press conference since March looking for news, which has had an effect on me.

“Last Tuesday, Leo Varadkar mentioned it casually that 16 to 18-year-old transplant recipients (and those with underlying illnesses) would be moved up the list and it was confirmed by Dr. Ronan Glynn shortly afterwards following advice from NIAC (National Immunisation Advisory Committee).

“When the new list was released the following day it was such a relief to know that those young people have now had their voices heard,” she said.

While there is relief in the Osgood-Daly household, Bernie says the campaign continues for other groups.

“We are so relieved of course but there are other people who must also move up the list and I think those who offer homecare are one of those groups,” she said.

Bernie said that for now though, it was all about keeping safe and waiting for word on when Rebecca can receive her Pfizer vaccine.

“We’re delighted that Rebecca’s 94-year-old great-grandmother, Frances Daly, will be vaccinated very soon even though she very kindly offered her place in the queue to Rebecca!

“There is hope in the air now and hopefully it won’t be too long until Rebecca gets word of her own vaccine,” Bernie concluded.