After almost eight years within Sales and Marketing in the drinks industry working for major brands such as Bass Beers Worldwide, Coca Cola and Pernod Ricard in Canada, Ireland and Scotland, Cliodhna pursued her passion for organisational improvement and leadership. She successfully ran her own company for three years, consulting with post primary schools and small to medium sized businesses before taking up the position of Regional Director for Common Purpose UK in Northern Ireland. At Common Purpose she led her team to consistently high performance both in terms of income generation and KPIs. She progressed to Global Director for the Common Purpose Charitable Trust, with a remit to support the Chief Executive to grow Common Purpose's global work before being appointed as CEO of Common Purpose UK, leading over fifty staff.
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Cliodhna's biggest success came in the birth of her two children, Charlie and Nancy in 2010 and 2011 respectively.
Charlie was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia in 2013 and underwent two bone marrow transplants in Bristol Children’s Hospital in 2014 and 2017. From the day of his second transplant life was irreversibly changed with the onset of acute and subsequently the most severe form of chronic graft versus host disease.
Charlie’s eyes, liver, gut, lungs, skin and soft tissue were all impacted to the point that he lost his independence and mobility. Seeing seven consultants plus Dieticians, Physios, Occupational Therapists, Psychologists and receiving ECP, Cliodhna became concerned and frustrated with the lack of awareness, knowledge and treatments available for her child’s condition.
With her husband Fintan’s full support she lobbied to get ECP in Northern Ireland for paediatrics and double robotic technology into the education system to support Charlie’s home schooling. After studying clinical trials and speaking to medics worldwide she pushed to trial drugs over and above the standard first line treatment for Charlie.
Sadly, Charlie passed away on the 2nd August 2019, just because he beat cancer three times. Graft versus host disease, a cruel, unpredictable, somewhat untreatable illness killed him, despite bone marrow transplants being undertaken for almost six decades?
Cliodhna is determined that no other patient or family should suffer in this way and believes that patients and carers need to work together with the medical community to raise awareness, knowledge and treatment of graft versus host disease. She is currently writing a book to tell Charlie’s unique story.
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