Help Anthony Morris fight Lyme Disease

May 24th, 2016
by Weeshie Fogarty

 Anthony Morris is one of the most passionate Kerry football men you would meet in a day's march, the Spa club man exudes in the greatest possible manner all the passion, pride and hunger which epitomizes all that is great and good in Kingdom GAA people. To spend time in his company and talk football is a wonderful and enriching experience. As a young boy he constantly viewed the The Golden Years DVD of Mick o Dwyer's magnificent Kerry All Ireland winning teams. "Watching it inspired me and literally drove me on to pursue my ambition of wearing the green and gold", he told me when I visited him at his home in Glenflesk last Monday week.  

He certainly achieved his boyhood dreams representing his county at minor, under 21 and junior level, he won his All Ireland with the Kerry Vocational schools, togged out with the Kerry seniors and has vivid memories of being inspired by the late Paudie o Se, "listening to him in the dressing with put the hairs standing on the back of your neck", he recalled, "he was a wonderful person and imbued in me what Kerry football and pride in the jersey is all about".   

Regrettably Anthony has been very ill for the last eight years; he suffers from Lyme disease, a bacterial illness caused by a bacterium called a "spirochete." Certain ticks frequently found on deer from various locations harbor the bacterium in their stomachs. Lyme disease is spread by these ticks when they bite the skin, which permits the transmission of the bacterium through the skin to infect the body. Lyme disease is not contagious and does not spread  from an affected person to someone else.

It is a horrible insidious, debilitating disease and when not diagnosed early it gradually gets worse and worse invading all corners of the body and this exemplary Spa man who first experienced symptoms of Lyme disease as far back as July 2008 was when we spoke preparing to travel to Washington where hopefully expert medical care and treatment will eventually have him back on the long road to full health. It was only early in 2016 that Anthony and his partner Kildare born Margaret had a positive lab test showing Lyme disease. This followed a 1,000 Euro blood test last December by a specialist laboratory in Germany. Unfortunately for Anthony Irish and English blood tests had failed to diagnose the illness and the final positive results from Germany indicated chronic levels and also for a number of confections.

As well as representing is club Spa, and county, Anthony was one of the star players on a great East Kerry team which won three Kerry senior county championships in-a-row, 1997-98-99.  He lined out in the full back line in those magnificent victories as Laune Rangers Rangers, St Kieran's and Feale Rangers were put to the sword. Former Kerry star Seamus Moynihan who was one of Anthony's team mates in those victories said of him, " he was an outstanding player and any time we needed one of the opposition star forwards to be marked it was Anthony who we turned to, his defensive abilities was one of the main reasons we won those titles. He was a terrific battler and I have no doubt now Weeshie those very same battling qualities will bring him through in the fight he will face for his recovery and treatment in Washington".

John Kelly was a selector with that East Kerry side and Donal Daly (Firies) and Sean Og o Leary (Gneeveguilla) helped in those historic wins and all three men were high in their praise of Anthony especially his leadership qualities on and off the field. I must admit it was simply heart-breaking to see such an exemplary man who when in his prime as a footballer was one of the fittest men in the county now in such a poor state of ill health.  In February of this year Margaret brought Anthony to the Jemsek Clinic in Washington, trailblazers of Lyme disease treatment for the last thirty years and their results are highly encouraging, 60%to 75% improvement in their patents. They see 300,000 cases of the disease every year.

Margaret also explained to me," In making our decision our priority was to find the most experienced and capable option. After almost eight years Anthony is desperate for answers and treatment, so with this in mind we felt our only option was to travel to the Jemsek Clinic in Washington".  An so last Monday week, Anthony, Margaret and daughter Rosin departed for Washington. Margaret was very open and blunt about what faces them there as she told me. "When we were over there in February the doctors and nurses were most concerned about the severity of Anthony's neurological symptoms, indicating prolonged Lyme infection of his spinal fluid and brain.

The preferred course of treatment is a nine month course of IV antibiotics and Anthony has been warned that this course of treatment is not pleasant and is extremely though on the patient". Even after those nine months the fight to recovery will go on as Anthony will be required to take oral antibiotics for another year combined with frequent visits to monitor Lyme remission.

So with the family's departure to Washington the long lonely fight to full recovery has begun for this exemplary man with such a wonderful and dedicated partner Margaret, this lovely Kildare lady and former intercounty footballer herself  and her family need our help. The cost of treatment, transport, pharmacy bills, accommodation and living expenses for the nine months will be massive.

 Fund raising events are now on-going and please watch out of the big walk on Friday June 17th. It will be a 5k and 10k walk beginning and finishing at Liebher car Park across from the Killarney Golf and Fishing club. Registration begins at 6 pm. You can also subscribe by clicking in to the web site, "Help Anthony Morris fight Lyme Disease.

Lyme Disease is a terrible, sinister, incapacitating illness, Anthony Morris is an amazing kind and gentle person and the suffering and pain he has gone through for the last eight years is nearly too much for one person to accept. He has served his club and county and East Kerry district with great distinction, humility and faithfulness. We wish him well as he begins the road for please God will be a full recovery to health. If any man deserves our support in such a time of need it is him. 

Radio Kerry - The Voice of the Kingdom