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20th Mar 2019

HPV vaccine campaigner Laura Brennan has died at the age of 26

Keeley Ryan

HPV campaigner Laura Brennan has died at the age of 26.

The young woman, originally from Co Clare, was diagnosed with cervical cancer at the age of 24. Ms Brennan had been working with the HSE to promote the HPV vaccination, touching lives of those across the country with her appearances on TV and on the radio.

Her family issued a statement paying tribute to Ms Brennan, who they said was “a light in the life of everyone who knew her.”

The statement continued [via RTÉ]:

“[She was] a wonderful daughter, sister and friend. We are lost without her.”

The HSE issued a statement paying tribute to the 26-year-old, as they sent their condolences to her family and friends.

Anne O’Connor, Interim HSE Director General, said today:

“We are all deeply saddened to learn of Laura’s death, and we feel immense gratitude and admiration for her and her family.  Laura has defined courage and generosity as she supported our work to ensure girls get the HPV vaccine, and are protected from this terrible cancer.

“Laura came forward when she was first diagnosed with terminal cancer and our mission became hers. We know that Laura has made a difference, and will have saved lives through her great effort and her tremendous generosity of spirit.”

Paul Connors, HSE National Director of Communications, added:

“Laura, her parents and brothers have given everyone in Ireland a remarkable gift. At a moment when her time was most precious, she chose to stand in the public eye and tell her story, in order to help others.

“She has reached many thousands of families, through her remarkable videos as part of our advertising campaign, by telling her story in the media on television, radio, print and online, and by speaking at events all over the country.

“Laura’s personal story, her leadership and her warm and vivacious personality provided many parents in Ireland with the understanding they needed to protect their daughters with the HPV vaccine. Uptake rates have risen dramatically, and we know they will increase further, saving many lives, thanks to Laura, and Laura’s family.”

Minister for Health Simon Harris said that he was “deeply saddened” to learn of Ms Brennan’s passing as he paid tribute to the “incredible young woman and powerful campaigner.”

He said:

“Despite her illness, she continued her advocacy and thanks in no small part o her sheer determination, the uptake of the HPV vaccine has increased among young women. The State owes her a debt of gratitude.

“As a person, she was kind, funny and full of live. Her enthusiasm was infectious. Every time I met Laura or spoke with her, I was inspired by her. Amazing doesn’t do justice to her or her courage.”