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jab plea Mum of a little girl (8) with Cystic Fibrosis calls for family carers to be included on Covid vaccine list

Mum reveals how family's biggest fear is passing on virus to their daughter with Cystic Fibrosis

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Bernie Martin and daughter Eva Rose

Bernie Martin and daughter Eva Rose

Bernie Martin and daughter Eva Rose

The mum of a little girl with Cystic Fibrosis has called for family carers to be included on the Covid vaccine list.

Eight-year-old Eva Rose Martin has the high-risk condition which affects the lungs, but because of her age is not eligible for a vaccine.

Mum Bernie says vaccinating family carers would protect such families.

"There are so many people who are a priority and they should be taken care of. But I do find it very confusing and disheartening that family carers aren't even on the list. It's not about moving up the list, it's about being on the list.

"There's a situation where you have a vulnerable child. The child can't be vaccinated because the vaccine isn't approved for children. But nobody else in the household can be vaccinated either because we're not considered a priority.

"It makes no sense to me. My role as a family carer isn't recognised on the list. That's hard for families who've been trying to protect themselves for the past year."

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Eva Rose hasn’t caught colds or flu since measures were introduced

Eva Rose hasn’t caught colds or flu since measures were introduced

Eva Rose hasn’t caught colds or flu since measures were introduced

Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic condition, but many people unaffected do not know they carry the gene. This was the case when Bernie and husband David had their second child, Eva Rose. Big brother Danny is unaffected by the condition.

Mum Bernie already had an instinct that something wasn't right. While CF is best known for causing damage to the lungs, it can also impact how the digestive system works.

"She had irregular bowel movements. There were warning flags with her from around day four or five. She was also feeding constantly and not putting on weight," Bernie recalls.

Children are now routinely screened for CF and a further test confirmed doctors' suspicions.

"It was really terrifying, to be honest. It was so overwhelming knowing there was something wrong and not knowing what it is. So we were so glad to get the early diagnosis. We were lucky from the point of view that we weren't on a wild goose chase.

"She had a really bad patch aged between two and six and she started to pick up various viruses. They were regular colds and coughs she was picking up but she wasn't able to tolerate them. She was hospitalised three times in the space of 14 months."

While her family are doing their utmost to protect Eva Rose from contracting Covid, they've noticed she has had a good year as health measures have helped prevent her from contracting other colds and flu.

"When the pandemic broke out first everyone was talking about hand hygiene and masks, all the things we'd been doing since Eva was born. It was so strange at first when everyone else was doing the same things we'd always been doing, like wiping down touch points.

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David and Bernie Martin with their children Eva Rose and Danny

David and Bernie Martin with their children Eva Rose and Danny

David and Bernie Martin with their children Eva Rose and Danny

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"You're just trying your best to eliminate risk as much as possible. We've experienced our daughter having the best health in the last year, because there are so few other colds and viruses knocking around. It took her a good six months to come back from one virus in 2018."

Still, Bernie adds, like families all over Ireland who have children with CF, having Covid in the home is their greatest fear.

"She has a high-risk condition but she's in a low-risk age group. And you're trying to figure out what that would mean if she was to come in contact with it."

Despite the anxiety and uncertainty, proud mum Bernie says their bubbly daughter gives them all a lift.

"She's the most resilient, funny little cailín I've ever come across. She's always smiling, really takes everything in her side. She has this gorgeous infectious energy to her."

And the family recently received the good news that Eva is medically suitable for the latest in a line of new drugs which help treat CF.

Kaftrio is a drug which improves lung function and absorption of food. While it's currently only licensed for over 12s in Europe, the family is hopeful that will change in the future.

"It's really exciting, we are very lucky be living in an age where this is available.

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Eva Rose and her brother Danny are great pals

Eva Rose and her brother Danny are great pals

Eva Rose and her brother Danny are great pals

"It has been a huge help this year knowing you have something positive to look forward to. There are some incredible stories out there about what that drug has done for people. The hope is it will stop progression of the disease."

The family is supporting this year's Cystic Fibrosis Ireland 65 Roses Challenge.

"65 Roses is a positive focus for CF families out there because sometimes it can be very isolating. It's an emotional boost as well as a fundraising boost.

"My friend Michelle lives in Budapest and she's doing a 6.5k run. They're asking people to come up with their own challenges. People are very good and it does give you a boost."

Cystic Fibrosis Ireland cannot proceed with its usual 65 Roses Day collections on Friday April 9 due to Covid-19.

Members of the public are instead being encouraged to support people with CF on 65 Roses Day by donating online at 65RosesDay.ie or by taking part in a 65 Roses Challenge.

This year's Team Challenge is being held in memory of Kevin Driscoll, a CF patient who passed away last year.

"Kevin Driscoll and his beloved Bishopstown GAA club last May organised a virtual Malin to Mizen Head run, raising over €21,000 for much-needed funds for Cystic Fibrosis Ireland," said his wife Maria.

"Kevin himself could be seen donning the purple jersey around the streets of Cork followed by club members young and old.

"It meant so much for his fellow club mates to get behind this cause and hopefully when restrictions are eased the club will do an annual event in Kevin's memory. Kevin dealt with his illness so bravely - dignified and courageous. It's so deserving of such a true warrior."

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