Cork grandfathers united in friendship after life-changing kidney transplants

Cork grandfathers united in friendship after life-changing kidney transplants
Donal O’Flynn (77), Dermot O’Connell (70) and Charlie Keane

Two Cork grandfathers who had not known one another previously have now forged a friendship which will endure for the rest of their lives as they thank the same deceased donor for their gifts of life.

Charlie Keane and Dermot O’Connell, aged 67 and 70 respectively, underwent their life-saving kidney transplants at Beaumont Hospital within hours of one another recently under the same transplant surgeon, Dilly Little.

Then weeks later, one of the men’s friends, 77-year-old Donal O’Flynn also got called for a transplant thanks to another deceased donor.

Dermot said: “It was a huge coincidence that another patient, Charlie Keane, who like me also attended dialysis treatment at the same hospital as me, was called for a kidney transplant on the same day as me.

"Remarkably, it took 10 days for the transplant kidneys to start working properly in both of us and we were carefully monitored and required three dialysis treatments before the kidneys functioned on their own.

"Our surgeon Dilly Little surmised that our lazy kidneys just needed time to wake up.

"Sharing the same donor’s kidneys is such a unique life-altering experience and Charlie and I have become friends since.

"It came as a huge surprise that within weeks of our transplant, my friend Donal O’Flynn who is 77 years and who had been receiving dialysis treatment for nine years was called for a kidney transplant.

"I know that I also speak for my two friends when I say that the three of us are immensely grateful to our deceased donors and their families for our renewed health and the second chance at life that we can now enjoy with our families.”

Donal and Dermot had been friends for over three years as they were both on the same early-morning dialysis shift at Cork University Hospital, three days a week for their four-hour treatments.

Donal, the eldest of the three men, had spent a lengthy nine years receiving dialysis treatment before his transplant came along, while Dermot, the second eldest, had been undergoing his treatment for three and a half years.

The wait was not as long for Charlie Keane (aged 67) from Blarney Street in Cork city, as he was only receiving his dialysis treatment for nine months before he was called for his transplant.

Charlie, a fitness enthusiast and the youngest of the three men, aged 67, said, “When I received the diagnosis that my kidneys were failing over 16 years ago, instead of letting it get me down, I decided to take control of my health and became active.

"I took up swimming every day and in the last couple of years I also attended the gym. I found that keeping fit was great for my physical and mental health."

The three men joined international rugby and grand slam winner Tomás O’Leary at the Cork launch by of the Organ Donor Awareness Week campaign, organised by the Cork branch of the Irish Kidney Association at the Rochestown Park Hotel this evening.

The key message of Organ Donor Awareness Week is that families need to talk to each other about organ donation and keep the reminders of their willingness to donate visible by carrying the organ donor card and permitting Code 115 to be included on their driver’s license.

Organ Donor Awareness Week also serves as a fundraising exercise for the Irish Kidney Association. Throughout the Week (31st March - 7th April 2018).

Volunteers will be out on the streets, and in shopping centres throughout the country, distributing organ donor cards while selling 'forget-me-not-flower' emblems, brooches, lapel pins, pens and shopping trolley discs.

All proceeds will go towards the Irish Kidney Association’s aid for patients on dialysis and those patients fortunate enough to have received a kidney transplant.

- Digital desk

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