“I’M so grateful to my donor,” says one kidney transplant recipient from Edenderry this week as she urged people to become organ donors.
Having had a kidney transplant in September 2009, 20 year old Niamh Lawton is only too happy to tell her story as part of the annual awareness campaign, which runs from Saturday March 31 to April 7 to highlight the importance of becoming an organ donor.
Niamh believes that organ donation is not something that perhaps young people in particularly know a lot about. “I or my family had no idea about it and I am assuming it’s the same for a lot of people. It is something to be aware. It is one of the most difficult conversations to have with a loved one but take five minutes out of your life to discuss the issue of people’s wishes.
“You never know when or if it could be you.”
She acknowledges that it is probably one of the “most horrible, horrible things to have to do” but she adds that it can be a source of “great comfort” to many people later on when they have donated their loved ones’ organs.
Niamh’s story is that she had been on a family holiday in 2008 when she suddenly fell ill and following tests, it was discovered she had kidney failure. She then had to remain in Cyprus for 6 weeks where she received dialysis treatment before being well enough to travel home. When home, the 20 year old commenced dialysis treatment at the Midlands Regional hospital, Tullamore.
“I am very thankful for the care I received here. I got some amount of care. It was amazing.”
Niamh continued her treatment at the Tullamore based unit for a further year during which time she was in fifth year of secondary school. However, due to her illness she lost copious amounts of days at school and fell behind in her studies.
“When you are receiving dialysis, you are playing catch up in school all the time.”
At this stage, she made the decision to repeat fifth year in an effort to catch up with her studies.
And, it was that September that she received that life changing phone call to say that she could be getting a kidney. “It was late on Saturday night when we got the call. I got a shock when it rang. You know that it could come but when it does come, there is joy, shock, elation and anxiety.”
Niamh then headed to Beaumount hospital, Dublin where she underwent tests for her suitability for the kidney and thankfully, she never looked back since and even returned to school two months after her transplant.
“It was so different to be there every day, for every class, instead spending three to three and half hours in the hospital.” And, she is so grateful to her donor and enthuses that the transplant has made a huge difference to her quality of life.
The 20 year old is now a first year student in DCU where she studies European Business and French. “There is no way I would be as well here today if that hadn’t happened. It definitely changed things for me.”
The Offaly branch of the Irish Kidney Association will launch its awareness campaign in the Tullamore Court Hotel this Wednesday, March 28 at 8pm and people with an interest in organ donation and transplantation are urged to come along.
Among those attending will be Cllr Sinead Dooley, Offaly County Council, Chairman of the Offaly Branch of the Irish Kidney Association, Jerome Burke and speakers will include the recently appointed Consultant Nephrologist Frank Kelly, Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore and Mike Kelly, Co-ordinator Counselling Services, Irish Kidney Association.
Organ Donor Cards can be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association LoCall 1890 543639 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050. Visit website www.ika.ie
It is also now possible to store an organ donor card, the ‘ecard’ on Smart mobile phones. Simply search for ‘Donor ECard’ at the IPhone Store or Android Market Place.