DENIED A DEATH WITH DIGNITY; Fil McGrath's Husband Died at 33 from CF, a Tragic Victim Not Only of a Disease but Also of a Callous Hospital System; He Must Suffer the Consequences

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Byline: Eva Marie Gibney

THE widow of a cystic fibrosis sufferer has revealed in heartbreaking detail the appalling treatment her husband received in hospital... including ejection from an isolation ward weeks before his death.

On the anniversary of her husband Daragh's death, Fil McGrath, 42, has decided to expose the woeful shortcomings in facilities for CF sufferers and the callous attitude of senior staff who treated her husband at St Vincent's Hospital, Dublin.

She reveals how Daragh, who was just 33 when he died on October 18, 2008, was handed a

What husband was told after breaking the CF ward rules

'Living Directive' by staff - asking him to specify his funeral arrangements - on the same day he was removed from the very isolation ward which could have helped him to live longer anding.reater comfort.

Cystic fibrosis is a hereditary disease and is caused by a thick mucus build-up in the lungs which blocks the sufferer's airways and makes it hard for them to breathe.

One in 19 people in Ireland carry the gene yet, alarmingly, we have one of the shortest life expectancy rates for the disease in the developed world. Sufferers live to an average age of just 24, compared to 34 north of the border, where isolation units and a higher doctor-patient ratio have added years to survival rates.

Cystic fibrosis sufferers must be kept in complete isolation during their stay in hospital, but to date the country only has one dedicated eight-bed isolation unit - in St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin from which Daragh was ejected eight weeks before he died .

The hospital has given the go-ahead to a specialist 100-bed, [euro]22million CF unit, although building has not yet started. The unit will not be completed until 2012.

In her heart-rending account, Fil McGrath reveals the harsh treatment her husband suffered at the hands of medical staff, which included his removal from the isolation ward for talking to other patients from his doorway.

Daragh was transferred to another ward. He contracted a serious lung infection that led to his untimely death. He was also struck off the transplant list at the time, because his condition had deteriorated so rapidly after his transfer to the open ward, known as St Paul's.

Fil reveals: 'He used to live in constant fear of contracting another infection because he was in such close proximity to the geriatric patients on the same floor.

'And he had to share the same toilets. He didn't have his own shower, and when he became wheelchair bound I had to bring him down to the shared shower cubicle at the end of the ward and shower him.' Best friends since college where they both studied horticulture at the National Botanic Gardens, Fil, 42, says that she and Daragh shared an instant connection.

Daragh, from Tallaght, Co. Dublin, had lived with CF all his life, having been diagnosed at birth.

Three out of his four siblings had some form of the illness. His eldest brother, Fergus, died from CF at just 11 months, while the second oldest Sean, 45, is still battling a less aggressive form.

But Daragh strove to live as normal a life as possible. A lover of gardening, he studied horticulture even though his condition would never allow him to work in the field. He first revealed his illness to Fil, as they strolled home from college one evening. 'At the time I had a vague idea of what it was, but Daragh very patiently explained it to me. I went out and got out a book about it in the library and Daragh answered my questions. …