Family members who have been affected by hereditary kidney disease and have received six kidney donations want to raise awareness of organ donation and thank the donors.
Four years ago, Dundalk hairdresser Emma O’Connor gave her sister Louise Cowman one of the kidneys.
Just last week, my sister’s cousin, who lives in Sweden, received a kidney transplant there from a deceased donor.
The father of a sister in Dublin, Joe Fitzpatrick, also had a kidney transplant at Beaumont Hospital nine years ago.
The family shares their story to support the Organ Donor Awareness Week hosted by the Irish Kidney Association.
Some members of Emma and Louise’s family are affected by a hereditary kidney disease called polycystic kidney disease (PKD). It usually remains dormant until middle age.
Six of the family received kidney transplants, including an uncle, an aunt, and two cousins.
All donations were from deceased donors, except for Louise’s transplant from her sister Emma, who was not born in PKD.
Louise said he felt lucky that his family lived in modern times. “Previous generations were not so lucky, the condition was undiagnosed or unknown. Dialysis as a form of treatment became available about half a century ago.
“My great-grandmother, Bridie Reinhardt, buried eight children.
Emma, a kidney donor at the Petermark Hairdressing Shop in Dundalk, said Louise was suffering from twin pre-eclampsia, which accelerated the progression of her illness.
“It was a very easy decision to donate my kidneys to Louise. She had young twins in her lifetime.”
“Like winning the lottery”
After Christmas 2014, Emma called Beaumont Hospital to ask for an organ donation test. “This is the best decision I have ever made to advance the renal process of a living donor, which has completely changed my outlook on life.”
Louise, who works with the Dublin City Education and Training Board, said the transplant was like winning the lottery.
“I was really sick with my young children, but now I feel like I’ve never been sick. I was able to get back to work and start teaching my daughter’s GAA team. “
The Organ Donor Card can be obtained by calling the Irish Kidney Association at 01 6205306 or by sending the word donor to 50050 for free.
People can also visit the website ika.ie/get-a-donor-cardAlternatively, download the free digital organ donor card app to your mobile phone.
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