University Hospital Limerick cancer patient and vaccine campaigner, 26, passes away

Jess Casey

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Jess Casey

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jess.casey@limerickleader.ie

University Hospital Limerick cancer patient and vaccine campaigner, 26, passes away

Laura Brennan, who passed away this Wednesday at the University Hospital Limerick

TRIBUTES have been paid to an inspirational University Hospital Limerick cervical cancer patient and vaccine campaigner who passed away this Wednesday at the age of 26. 

Laura Brennan, who fronted a World Health Organisation campaign on the importance of children availing of the HPV vaccine, passed away at the hospital in Dooradoyle earlier this Wednesday. 

Health Minister Simon Harris has led tributes to the “amazing campaigner”, who has been credited with helping to boost the recent uptake in the HPV vaccine among young women. 

“Laura was an incredible young woman and a powerful campaigner,” Minister Harris said. 

“Despite her illness, she continued her advocacy and thanks in no small part to her sheer determination, the uptake of the HPV vaccine has increased among young women.” 

“The State owes her a debt of gratitude,” he added. 

"As a person, she was kind, funny and full of life. Her enthusiasm was infectious.” 

“Every time I met Laura or spoke with her, I was inspired by her. Amazing doesn’t do justice to her or her courage. I want to extend my deepest condolences to her family and friends.”

Laura Brennan, from Ennis, was diagnosed with terminal cervical cancer in 2017 when she was 25.

In a statement, the HSE said: "We are all deeply saddened to learn of Laura Brennan’s death, and we send our deepest condolences to her family and friends. Thank you Laura for all you have done." 

Following her diagnosis, Laura worked with the HSE as a staunch advocate for the HPV vaccine, which vaccinates against the four strains of the HPV virus that cause cervical cancer. 

For her work, she was awarded several honours including an honorary doctorate from UCD and the inaugural Patient Advocacy Medal from the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. 

She was also named the Clare Person of the Year for 2019.

While promoting the campaign, Laura said: ““This illness is devastating and it’s going to take my life but the good news is there’s a vaccine that you can get that prevents it. HPV caused my cancer. I just wanted parents to know there is an alternative.” 

She was too old to get the vaccine when it was first rolled out in Irish schools.

“I wish the vaccine had been available to me, of course I do. Don’t get swayed by rumours about the vaccine’s safety—get the vaccine,” she added.