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Westport woman with CF urges people to stay at home


Ger Flanagan

“THE last six months have been the most gruelling of my life and I personally do not want to succumb to this virus if at all possible because some people didn’t do what they were supposed to do and asked to do.”
They are the striking words of Westport native Ella Burns. The University College Dublin student has Cystic Fibrosis (CF)  and has called on the country to be extremely vigilant during these unprecedented times of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The 21 year old posted a strong message on her Facebook page last weekend, urging people to adhere to social distancing to avoid mounting any more pressure on the healthcare services in Ireland.
“Our health service and government are asking you to stay at home so they don’t become extremely overwhelmed,” she wrote. “They are asking you to do this so they hopefully don’t run out of ventilators. I don’t want to know how many we have because I’ll probably need one if I get this [coronavirus].
“As someone who is a only alive because of our health service and a regular inpatient in one of our acute Dublin hospitals, I ask that you respect them and do as our public health doctors are asking you to do.
“I’m only 21 years of age, but I’ve spent my entire life spending hours each day to stay alive. It’s regimental and your efforts to avoid this virus now are something we have done on many occasions throughout our lives. For people like me, a lot have decided to self-quarantine completely for the near future - the risk of becoming seriously ill, losing more lung function permanently, requiring round the clock ICU care and potential death is too great not to.”

Growing level of anxiety
Speaking to The Mayo News yesterday (Monday), Ella, an accomplished and high-level swimmer, admitted there is a growing level of anxiety from people with CF in Ireland, particularly with reports of what is happening in England. “It’s quite worrying to hear that in England the CF isolation rooms are being used to deal with the coronavirus,” she said. “People with CF need these rooms and I hope the healthcare management in Ireland don’t go down the same path, because we can get very sick extremely quickly, meaning that jeopardising access to our healthcare resources could be life threatening.”
Ella was fulsome in her praise for the work being carried out by the ‘amazing CF teams’ in Irish hospitals and was very confident in their ability to care for their patients throughout this pandemic.
In terms of her own health, Ella says she is now ‘fitter than ever’, but admits she is taking ‘extra caution’ in how she lives her day-to-day life, sticking regimentally to her treatment and exercise.
She has urged fellow people with CF to do the same.
“It gets terrifying when you hear stories from Italy, or some of the scaremongering occurring, but I would urge people with CF not to be afraid,” she stated. “This is definitely unprecedented times for us and I would urge them to continue with their treatment as much as possible because there’s so much on the line.
“I’m from a generation where we didn’t have to worry about not getting a bed or even my own room, and taken care of brilliantly, but now there is a bigger worry due to cross contamination. However, people just need to be more cautious and please don’t avoid hospitals if you need care.”