Double Lung Transplant Doctor Undertakes Challenge for Neonatal Unit

5th April 2022

A young mum who underwent a lifesaving double lung transplant in December 2021, has been walking 5000 steps a day for the month of March to raise funds for the Neonatal Unit at the Ulster Hospital, Dundonald.  Cathy Flinn, Neonatal Infant Feeding Lead at the Ulster Hospital met up with Catherine McCarroll for the last day of her steps challenge in Moat Park in Dundonald to mark the milestone.

Catherine who is 30 and lives in Belfast works as a Doctor in Obstetrics and Gynaecology in the Ulster Hospital, gave birth prematurely to baby daughter Eve at 34 weeks.  Prior to her pregnancy, Catherine had a respiratory condition and during her pregnancy, her condition deteriorated.  Following  baby Eve’s birth, Catherine spent three weeks in hospital but after she was discharged, her condition deteriorated even further and she needed a double lung transplant.  Catherine was put on an urgent list and was flown to the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle Upon Tyne for an urgent double lung transplant where she spent a considerable time in ICU.

Following her successful transplant operation, part of Catherine’s rehabilitation was exercise, so she decided to do something a little different.  Keen to celebrate her daughter’s first birthday and also to incorporate exercise into her rehabilitation, Catherine decided to walk 5000 steps a day for the month of March and raise funds to purchase ‘Joey Bands’ for the Neonatal Unit at the Ulster Hospital.  ‘Joey Bands’ help promote and encourage skin-to-skin contact in the Neonatal Unit which is the first step in helping mums to produce milk.

Catherine and her husband Andi received incredible support from the Neonatal Unit at the Ulster Hospital.   Speaking about her experience she said, “They did so much for us, not only for Eve, but for us as a family.  I want to give something back to them as a thank you for the incredible help and support.”

Catherine added, “By undertaking the fundraising challenge to walk 5000 steps a day, I not only wanted to raise awareness of lung transplants, but also wanted to raise awareness of organ donation.  I would not be here today if it wasn’t for the donor.”

Cathy Flinn who supported Catherine and her husband Andi whilst she was in the Neonatal Unit stated, “When Catherine gave birth to baby Eve, she was very poorly and breastfeeding was the only thing she could do for her baby unaided.  We supported Catherine in establishing breastfeeding for baby Eve and we stayed in contact with her supporting her through her transplant journey.

“Catherine is  such an amazing person.  She contacted me within two weeks of her transplant saying she wanted to do this fundraiser. What an incredible fighting spirit!”

Catherine has smashed through her target, clocking up a massive 15000 in one day alone!

Catherine hopes to continue her rehabilitation with her daily steps now her challenge has ended.