Westmeath woman and donor mother celebrate kidney transplant 40 years ago

Westmeath woman and donor mother celebrate kidney transplant 40 years ago
Edel with her family two years before her transplant.

A businesswoman from Mullingar in Co Westmeath is celebrating the 40th anniversary of her life-saving kidney transplant along with her donor mother.

It is 40 years since the establishment of the Irish Kidney Association and kidney donor card in 1978, the same year an nine-year-old girl called Edel O'Brien underwent the kidney transplant.

Her mother Moira had given birth to her fifth child, a 12lb baby boy, four months before donating her kidney.

She was deemed to be a more suitable donor match for her ailing daughter than her husband Patrick.

Thanks to the transplant Edel, now 49, is a busy businesswoman and mother of four children ranging in age from 15 to 29 years.

Moira, who lives in Tyrrellspass, is now 76 years old and along with her husband, Patrick, is a proud grandparent of 13.

Edel said she was gravely ill before her transplant and spent "a year in hospital surrounded by elderly patients" as she was the only child there before undergoing her transplant.

Edel in hospital around the time of her transplant.
Edel in hospital around the time of her transplant.

At the time dialysis treatment had only begun in only three places in the country. There are now 23 locations around the country where you can get treatment.

She spent her time "being spoilt by staff" in Jervis Street and St Mary's at the Phoenix Park, as she was the only child.

Edel said: "I used to play dress up when my cousin from Dublin came to visit and the hospital photographer was always there to take photos of us, including one of us dressing up as nurses."

Edel dressed up as a nurse with her cousin from Dublin when a patient at St. Mary's.
Edel dressed up as a nurse with her cousin from Dublin when a patient at St. Mary's.

The transplant took place on December 15, 1978, and on St Stephen's Day President Hillary came to visit her in hospital as the transplant story made the headlines.

They are sharing their story in support of Organ Donor Awareness Week which takes place from March 31 to April 7.

Mark Murphy, Chief Executive of the Irish Kidney Association, said: “2017 was a record year for organ transplantation for Ireland with a total of 327 organs being transplanted into 321 patients including a total of 23 children/paediatric transplants.

"It is thanks to the gift of organ donation that almost 3,500 transplanted people in Ireland are enjoying extended life."

At the end of 2017, he said, there were 524 people active on the various transplant-waiting pools for heart, liver, kidney, lung and pancreas.

Mr Murphy said: “The selfless and profound generosity of the families of 99 deceased donors in Ireland resulted in a total of 260 deceased donor transplants taking place in 2017.

"The 260 deceased donor organ transplants comprised 141 kidneys, 62 Liver, 16 Heart, 36 Lungs and five pancreas transplants”.

A record of 51 living donor kidney transplants were also carried out by the Beaumont Hospital transplant team. Last year the record 311 transplants were carried out at Ireland’s three transplanting hospitals.

Of these 311 transplants, Beaumont carried out 12 paediatric kidney transplants in Temple Street Hospital from both living and deceased donors.

Mr Murphy said: “We are aware that an additional 15 Irish patients underwent 16 HSE-funded transplants in the UK comprising of eight paediatric liver transplants, two paediatric lung transplants and a paediatric heart transplant.

"There were 11 paediatric organ transplants in total, three paired exchange kidney transplants (kidney swap) and a combined heart and lung transplant.

“For the first time in 39 years, transplantation is keeping up with dialysis, with 2,074 people on dialysis. This is one less person on dialysis than in the previous year 2016.”

Edel at a rugby match with her brothers recently.
Edel at a rugby match with her brothers recently.

Free information fact files can be obtained from the Irish Kidney Association and are available nationwide from pharmacies, GP surgeries and Citizen Information Offices.

You can apply for Organ Donor Cards by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01-6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050.

For more information visit www.ika.ie.


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