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Funds pour in for islander stranded after cancelled surgery

Funds pour in for islander stranded after cancelled surgery

Tuesday 29 June 2021

Funds pour in for islander stranded after cancelled surgery

Tuesday 29 June 2021

Islanders have donated close to £5,000 in support of an islander after his long-awaited surgery in Germany was cancelled due to the rise in covid cases in Jersey and the UK, leaving him to face 14 days in isolation.

Martin O’Neill - known on the local music scene as the lead singer for ‘Joe Young and the Bandits’ – has been in Germany with his aunt Charmaine since 18 June.

His mesh removal surgery was due for 23 June at the Starnberg Clinic in Munich but it was cancelled just the day before after Germany changed the classification of the UK and Jersey from green to amber, meaning he would have to quarantine for 14 days. 


Pictured: "No matter what strife and pain I’m in I still find the time to make others smile," Martin said about his tongue-in-cheek picture.

The mesh was put in seven years ago when Martin went to hospital for a hernia repair. Since then, he says he has been struggling with “constant infections” and a “constant inflammatory response” with muscle spasms that sometimes get so bad he can’t move at all. 

“It has tortured me,” he said. “The pain is incessant, it has completely destroyed me."

After several years fighting to get his issue acknowledged with the hospital, it was finally agreed he would be sent to Germany for the removal, as the surgery couldn’t be performed in Jersey.

“For seven years, I have been banging my head against a brick wall telling doctors what was wrong with me,” Martin said. “It took two experts’ opinions, one I had to pay for myself and the other one they paid for, to say the issue was with the plastic mesh… nothing to do with my spine or hip.  It took five and a half years for my issue to be accepted.” 

But on the eve of the procedure, despite his pre-op appointment going well, it was cancelled. “It became quite scary and political,” Martin said. “The medical exemptions were given before the law passed, the law passed on Monday, we arrived on Sunday.”

Pictured: Martin with his bandmates from Joe Young & the Bandits.

Due to the extra costs involved with a 14-day quarantine, Martin contacted Social Security but they were not able to help. 

After Martin shared a post on Facebook about his situation, his next-door neighbour, Ian Thompson started a fundraising page in the hope to raise £2,000 for Martin, whom he previously helped on several occasions by calling the ambulance when he was in too much pain to move.

“People who know Martin knows he has gone from an outgoing lovable Jack Black like character, lead singer in an up and coming band to a shadow of his former self and despite what he is going through he has remained positive and optimistic that an operation he has been waiting for in Germany will hopefully put him back on track,” Ian wrote on the page.  

Over 120 people have since donated to the page helping it reach just under £5,000 in just four days.

“What Ian has done has absolutely blown my mind,” Martin said. “I didn’t even know it was happening, I had turned all the notifications off. I woke up to all these messages and I thought ‘oh my god’. It is so heart-warming. When I think back about what Ian has done it’s utterly, utterly mesmerizing.”


Pictured: People have so far donated just under £5,000.

Martin said the funds have not only helped him and his aunt afford an extra meal every day – at a cost of 40€ a day they previously could only afford one – but will also help him afford a medical grade bed when he comes back to the island.  

“When I heard it was nearly at £5,000, I nearly choked. I am a very proud man, I would never have asked for that, I told Ian I was actually uncomfortable with that, but it comes from a man with a beautiful heart and with good intentions. 

“It’s utterly blown me away. The faith and the hope it has given me… I am literally running on everyone else’s hope at the moment.”

Martin, who will be out of quarantine on Sunday, is now hoping he will be able to get another date for the surgery. He said it’s the only option that makes sense given how frequently he has to visit the Intensive Care Unit at a cost of £3,000 a day.

“If I go back to Jersey they would have to put me in ICU every so often and put an epidural near my spine,” he explained. “The last time I had an epidural, it gave me an infection, it’s getting worse. They cannot keep doing that, the mesh has to come out.” 

To donate to Martin's fundraising page, click HERE.

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Posted by Danny Moisan on
Martin is an amazing human being, maybe our cash rich Government should have paid for this without the need to fund raise! best of luck man see ya soon
Posted by ANN DOYLE on
Martin is my young cousin and he doesn't deserve to have his hopes dashed. The UK Goverment should be a shamed for themselves. They should be paying the German hospital for Martin's operation. Just hope Martin can get this operation. So everyone here in Scotland & Jersey get the Martin we all know and love back
Ann Marie Doyle
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