The family and friends of a seriously ill 25 year-old Tipperary Town woman have embarked on a crusade to raise â‚¬150,000 to fund vital medical treatment for her in the United States.
Marina Murphy from 35 An Duiche, Tipperary is suffering from Chronic Neurological Lyme Disease and her mother Geraldine fears her daughter will die if she doesnâ€™t get the treatment she requires.
The young woman, who grew up in Ballykisteen, worked as a taxi driver with her dad Edmund in Drumms Cabs in Tipperary before she became very ill last November.
She was initially diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis but a sample of her blood sent to the IGeneX laboratory in California confirmed she had Lyme Disease, which in its severe form has similar symptoms to MS.
Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection transmitted by the bite of a hard bodied tick, an insect commonly found on wild animals or in long grass or vegetation. It is not contagious from person to person but if not treated early it can very serious and even fatal.
Marina remembers developing a bulls-eye rash following a tick bite in early 2011 after picking up a wounded fox on the road on her way home from work and she also received another tick bite some years ago.
The disease can be treated and cured easily with a few weeks of anti-biotics if caught in the early stage but Marina is suffering from stage three Chronic Neurological Lyme Disease, which requires four to six months of intravenous anti-biotics.
Geraldine says there are currently no doctors in Ireland with the expertise to treat chronic neurological lyme disease, the symptoms of which include chronic arthritis, tissue damage, brain fog and loss of sight.
Marinaâ€™s case was reviewed by a leading expert in this area Dr Joseph Jemsek, who runs a private clinic in Washington DC when he visited Dublin for a conference on Lyme Disease in June.
Geraldine said Dr Jemsek looked at Marinaâ€™s records and examined her and said he could cure her but it would involve her spending several months undergoing treatment at the clinic in Washington.
Marina, who previously worked as a tatoo artist at Bohemian Girl, Tipperary, said the Lyme Disease conference o was organised by Tick Talk Ireland, the support and awareness group for sufferers of Lyme Disease.
She has found the group a great source of help and is anxious herself to raise awareness of Lyme Disease, which she points out is a common disease in Ireland. â€œIf it wasnâ€™t for Tick Talk I would be in some state now,â€ she said.
Marina said the disease has left her tired all the time and suffers from severe pains in her back and arms. Her eye sight and memory are also affected. When she got very sick last November she suffered paralysis to the left side of her body and her speech and hearing were affected as well as her sight.
â€œEveryone should watch out for this disease. You can get it off fleas, mosquitos and flies as well as ticks,â€ she said.
The Marina Murphy Fund has been set up by a group of Marinaâ€™s family and friends to raise funds to cover the cost of her medical treatment and stay in the US. A number of fundraising events have already taken place in Tipperary Town including a music night in Ned Kellyâ€™s Oz Bar and a church gate collection.
Geraldine thanked all who supported both these fundraisers and was â€œoverwhelmedâ€ by the amount of people who attended the recent bands night at the Oz Bar in aid of the Fund. â€œI had a lump in my throat. It couldnâ€™t believe it. It was just brilliant,â€ she recalled.
More fundraisers are planned over the next month.
The include a table quiz at Ned Kellyâ€™s Oz Bar this Friday, August 10, a church gate collection in Solohead on August 11 and 12, collection at the Bansha Show on August 22, a bag packing collection at Tesco in Tipperary on August 23, 24 and 25 and a barn dance at Ned Kellyâ€™s on August 24.
A Marina Murphy Fund bank account has been opened to take donations. It is Account No:17070030, Sort Code: 93-53-28.
Geraldine has appealed to anyone interested in joining the Marina Murphy Fund group or anyone with fundraising ideas to contact her at (087)9618413 or Bernadine at (087)2651140.
For more information on the Marina Murphy Fund contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Lyme Disease visit www.ticktalkireland.org or e-mail email@example.com.