THIS week is Organ Donation Awareness week, organised by the Irish Kidney Association. This year more than any other, the subject of organ donation is very close to my heart. In 2022, 250 organ transplants took place in Ireland, 250 lives were transformed and one of those lives belongs to my brother. I would go as far as to say that he got a whole new life.
He is a totally different person full of energy and zest for life, making more conversation than I have ever known him to and eating all around him, particularly the things he couldn’t have when he was in kidney failure for 17 years.
For all of our adult lives, Diarmuid had been restricted in what he could do and what he could eat. He only had half the energy he should have and it is only when I see him as the picture of health that I realise just how sick he was for so long.
When Diarmuid got his kidney transplant on October 11, 2022, the Irish Kidney Association stepped in and gave my parents hotel accommodation for as long as they needed it without having to put a hand in their pocket. I promise you they would have paid top dollar to look after their eldest son, as they always have since he first came into the world, but it was lovely for them to have the support and not have to worry. It was not a support I knew about before my family needed it and I am so grateful to the Irish Kidney Association and to all the team at Beaumont Hospital who looked after Diarmuid so well in his toughest times.
I cannot describe to you the gratitude I feel towards the donor of Diarmuid’s thriving, healthy kidney.
Due to the fact that the transplant was recent, you can still see a slight bulge in Diarmuid’s side, where his new kidney lies. When organs are transplanted your own organs are never removed, just the new one added to the mix so the body can stay as close as possible to the way it was. After time the old organ shrivels so his insides will stabilise again.
For now, every time I catch a glimpse of the bulge, I think of the donor. I think of the person who through their own selflessness, saved my brother’s life. I think of that person often. Whenever I think of the joy of Diarmuid’s transplant, I think of the sadness of the other family who lost a loved one who in turn enabled Diarmuid to live and flourish. I am so grateful that the family took the decision to donate the organs. It must be a harrowing position to be in but I will be thankful for the rest of my days.
That person who gave their kidney, saved more than one life but beyond the life saving act, they gave Diarmuid a life to be envious of; a life of health, a life filled with delicious food, a life of energy and activity and it is truly delightful to witness.
The theme of this week is “Leave No Doubt”. The Irish Kidney Association want to encourage everyone to have the conversation about donating their organs so that if the situation should arise that a loved one is being kept alive by life support machines that their family members know that they should give consent for their organs to be donated.
I am in absolutely no doubt after seeing what a new kidney has done for Diarmuid and I will support him forever to mind that precious organ in memory of his donor.
For more on Irish Kidney Association or organ donation, see