We are delighted to announce that we have put funding in place for a brand new adult service at St. James’s Hospital in Dublin.   

This will not only benefit adults that are desperately wanting to try ketogenic therapy for their drug resistant epilepsy, but will also free up more places in the paediatric services as they will now be able to transition their patients across to St. James’s that are already on ketogenic therapy. As a Matthew’s Friends supported service, this means that not only is funding put into place for the service, but also training is provided for the dietitians as well as ongoing mentoring.  All start up dietary information and booklets are provided, as well as the usual starter packs and ketogenic samples for the families.  The centre is also looking at being involved in future research projects and we will make regular visits to the centre in order to make sure that everything possible is being done to make this a very successful Adult Ketogenic Centre for Ireland.   We are very much looking forward to working with and supporting the team at St. James’s and I am delighted to introduce you to the Ketogenic Team at St. James’s….

Dr Colin Doherty

Consultant Neurologist, St James Hospital.

On behalf of the National Epilepsy Care Programme and in my role as National Clinical Lead and director of the Regional Epilepsy Services at St James’s hospital in Dublin, I am delighted to announce the appointment of Ms Laura Healy (BSc Hum Nut & Diet, PhD) as specialist dietitian in dietary treatments for epilepsy. This long awaited appointment is set to energise the treatment of adults with epilepsy who have the potential to be responsive to dietary manipulation such as the Ketogenic, Modified Atkins and Low Glycaemic Index diets. Historically only paediatric patients were offered this therapy and had to enter the adult services without specialist care for their diet.

The job has been sponsored for the first two years by Matthew’s Friends without whom the role would not have materialised. We are eternally grateful to Matthew’s Friends and to Emma Williams in particular for the generous support not just financially but spiritually during the prolonged process of partnering with St James’s and the Health Services in Ireland.
This role is envisaged as a national one and we will be inviting other epilepsy centres to consider referrals for dietary treatment. We are also excited by the development of joint educational programmes for dietary treatment with Matthew’s Friends over the next few years.

Laura Healy

LauraSenior Dietitian, St James Hospital.
BSc (Hons) Human Nutrition and Dietetics (DIT/TCD), Dip Stats (TCD), PhD (TCD)

Laura is a Senior Dietitian with over 13 years’ experience working in various clinical areas providing an inpatient and outpatient dietetic service and has over 10 years’ experience in clinical dietetic research. Laura began her research career in St James Hospital in 2005 and completed her PhD in 2010 focusing on nutrition and cancer. She has widely published and presented at numerous national and international conferences. In recognition of her work, Laura was awarded the INDI Research Dietitian of the Year in 2011. Recently, she was the lead investigator on a prospective randomised double blinded placebo controlled multi-centre trial in oesophageal cancer patients.

Laura enjoys new challenges and is delighted to be involved in the setting up of the first adult service for medical ketogenic dietary therapies in Ireland, supported by Matthew’s Friends. It’s fantastic that these specialist ketogenic dietary therapies will now be available to adults with epilepsy, especially those transitioning from paediatric services. Laura is passionate about research and hopes to add to the evidence base on ketogenic diets for epilepsy treatment in adults and provide a high-quality service reflecting the interests, values, needs, and choices of the patients and families we serve.

Ann-Marie Walsh

A WalshActing Senior Dietitian, St James’s Hospital
Bsc (Hons) Human Nutrition and Dietetics (DIT/TCD)

Ann-Marie is a dietitian with 4 years’ experience. Much of Ann-Marie’s career has been focused in the acute care setting. In the Mercy University Hospital Cork Ann-Marie covered a number of specialities including General medicine, Medicine for the elderly and CCU. Since 2013 she has been employed by St. James’s Hospital Dublin and has worked in a wide range of areas including Rheumatology; Endocrinology; Vascular, General, Upper gastrointestinal and Colorectal surgery; The High Dependency Unit and Neurology. Ann-Marie enjoys working with patients and their families and carers in both the in- and outpatient setting.

During her work in the area of Neurology Ann-Marie became interested in the use of the ketogenic diet for patients with refractory epilepsy. She has recently been appointed as acting Senior dietitian covering a maternity leave in the area of Ketogenic diet therapy for adults in St. James’s Hospital. Ann-Marie is delighted to play a role in the setting up of the first adult service for medical ketogenic dietary therapies in Ireland with the support of Matthew’s Friends. She looks forward to developing a high quality, patient centred service which will make the ketogenic diet available to adults with epilepsy, including those transitioning from paediatric services.

Ann-Marie has also completed further training in the areas of behaviour change, group facilitation and clinical audit and looks forward to applying these skills to her new position.