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‘A true hero of our time’ – Laura Brennan remembered on first anniversary

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Laura Brennan has been warmly remembered on the first anniversary of her death.

One of Ireland’s leading patient advocates and one of the country’s most vocal HPV vaccine campaigners, Laura died at University Hospital Limerick on March 20th 2019.

Since first contacting the HSE in 2017 up to her death, the Ennis woman inspired a nineteen percent increase in the uptake of the vaccine. Last month, it was revealed that the uptake of the HPV vaccine in Clare had hit ninety percent with Laura credited as the central reason for this.

A documentary on the twenty six year old produced for the RTÉ Player, This Is Me has been one of the most viewed shows on the platform this year. A jersey campaign which has seen clubs sport the HPV vaccine logo has gone worldwide in a bid to strengthen the message being shared by Laura.

Today, on her first anniversary, tributes have been paid to the late Clare woman. In a statement, the Brennan family asked people to remember Laura in their prayers and thoughts. “We remember with love our daughter and sister Laura, on this the first anniversary of her passing from us. The last twelve months has seen the HPV uptake rate nationally increase from the initial drop of 51% to 80%. While in County Clare the increase has been 90%.

“In addition the vaccine has been extended to 1st year boys in Secondary Schools. The support from schools, sporting organisations, businesses and the media towards the HPV Jersey Campaign has exceeded 10,000. The value of the Irish story and Laura’s campaign of awareness as regards the HPV vaccine has been extended to UK, USA, France, Belgium, Denmark and Romania. The Coronavirus has shown the importance of vaccines and getting your information from reliable sources such as the World Health Organisation, HSE, etc. We wish to express our thanks to all for your support over the last twelve months. Please remember Laura in your thoughts and prayers today”. The statement was signed by Laura’s parents, Bernie and Larry, brothers Colin, Fergal and Kevin plus her beloved dog Bailey.

Fellow HPV vaccine advocate, John Wall from Quin paid tribute to Laura. “We said goodbye 12 months ago to one of the most amazing people I’ve ever known, one of the best friends I’ve ever had. The impact this young lady had on my life and the lives of so many others is immeasurable”.

A statement from the HSE National Immunisation Office acknowledged the unbelievable contribution she made to the lives of many. “We remember Laura Brennan today on her 1st anniversary and think of her family too. We again say #ThankYouLaura, and say thank you to the entire Brennan family for sharing Lauras story of Cervical Cancer caused by the HPVVirus”.

Shannon woman, Agnes O’Shaughnessy commented, “We owe so much to Laura and the Brennan family for speaking out and advocating so strongly in an incredibly difficult time. HPV vaccine will save lives”.

Others have taken to social media with people describing Laura as “a true hero of our times” and “exceptional beyond words”.

A 5km colour run due to take place in her memory at St Flannan’s College has been postponed. “We will complete the run when we are back at school. What a lovely day it would have been to remember such a brave lady. We are thinking of Laura, her family and friends today,” a spokesperson for the school outlined.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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