Meet our Sailor

16-year-old Tim is looking forward to becoming a sound engineer, after being treated in the Bubble Unit for a life-threatening rare immune disorder when he was just four years old. Dublin-native Tim was diagnosed with Chronic Granulomatous Disorder just before his fourth birthday. The condition left him vulnerable to major infections such as pneumonia which he contracted as a young child, leaving him on a constant stream of antibiotics. Without the pioneering work of medics at the Bubble Unit, where Tim stayed for four months in 2007, Tim’s life would have ultimately been cut short.

Tim’s mum, Joan, said: “Tim was eight years old when he went into The Bubble Unit. He was one of the lucky ones. He got through everything so well.

“The whole experience was such a scary time for us as a family. Gerry, my husband, and I, were back and forward between Newcastle and Dublin all the time, and Tim’s older sister, Tess, found it so tough too. We all lived minute to minute and before then, I’d never realised just how precious a single second can be.

“Tim was eventually matched with a donor from the USA and his bone marrow transplant took place on Friday 13th, which proved to be such a lucky day for us. When we heard Tim’s bone marrow had taken, I can’t even describe how I felt. I texted all my family and friends at the same time to let them know, and remember saying, ‘I see we’ve won the Lotto’. Inside though, it was way more than that – and so much better. When you’ve been through the most tense, fragile experience possible, the elation you feel to get that news is beyond anything.”

After Tim’s bone marrow transplant was successful, he was able to move into a half-way house before eventually being allowed back home to Ireland in July 2007. Tim, now almost 17, is thriving, and has never looked back since his treatment.

“Tim is a happy, healthy teenage boy, in his second to last year at secondary school. He loves sailing and is very involved in music and theatre. It was still scary when we left the security of The Bubble, but in time, we found our way back to normal life. I’ll be forever indebted to the amazing staff. If Tim had been born 20 years ago, I don’t know where we’d be today – but because of The Bubble’s life-saving work, he’s doing so well.”