Two students at NUI Galway were recently awarded with the Tarpey Scholarships honouring the memory of pair of wonderful sisters who lost their lives to a terrible disease.
Chloe Conlon and Fiona Geraghty were presented with the scholarships from Hazel and Tanya Memorial Fund the by NUI Galway and University Hospital Galway.
Hazel and Tanya Tarpey were two sisters diagnosed with a rare genetic autoimmune disease that affects the endocrine glands called APECED (autoimmune polyendocrinopathy-candidiasis-ectodermal dystrophy).
In their years of treatment battling with this disease they left a lasting impression on staff at the Diabetes Centre and in every ward and hospital they received treatment in.
With just 13 months separating the two sisters, they tragically succumbed to their condition 11 years apart from each other.
Tanya was just 21 when she passed away in 2003, and after a further 11 years spent living and caring for other, Hazel died in hospital in October 2014.
After they passed away their family decided to do something in honour of their memory, setting up two scholarships in Hazel and Tanya’s names with the help of staff at UHG.
The girl’s parents Tim and Mary, along with siblings Ruth and Dermot, have been fundraising to establish these annual scholarships
The Tarpey Scholarships fund two annual research scholarships for students that want to push forward our understanding of medicine and work towards better patient care.
Chloe, a fourth year medical student from Sligo Town, was presented with the School of Medicine scholarship, with Fiona, fourth year nursing student from Williamstown, Co. Galway, receiving the School of Nursing and Midwifery scholarship.
Last year’s inaugural scholarship winners, Grace Cosgrove and Cherie Tan also came to presentation ceremony and expressed their gratitude to the Tarpey family for the opportunities they had been given.
“I wanted to use the money generously provided by the Tarpey family to further my education in nursing and increase my skills at ward level so that my clinical practice would improve and that the skills I have acquired will directly benefit my patients,” said Grace Cosgrove.
After taking an ECG course, Grace is better able to understand different cardiac rhythms, and spot abnormalities in her patients independent of a doctor, which has reduced waiting times on her ward.
The School of Medicine recipient Cherie Tan used her scholarship to attend the National Cancer Annual Meeting in Singapore this year, where she learned about how large medical data is synthesized to personalized medicine for individual cancer patients.
NUI Galway’s Professor Sean Dinneen who cared for both sisters said, “The Tarpey sisters left a deep and lasting impression on all who encountered them, especially because of their extraordinary courage.”