Brian gets ‘gift of life’ from brother

A 45-year-old Kerryman can’t find words to describe how well he feels after receiving the gift of life from his brother.

Killarney native Brian Kelliher, who had been enduring a daily existence of dialysis, working, and sleeping, is now living a “normal” life again after a kidney transplant from brother Tomás, 47.

The Dublin-based solicitor was diagnosed with kidney failure in 1999 and had been on dialysisuntil he received an organ from a deceased donor, in 2000.

However, that kidney failed in 2009 and he was back on dialysis for three-and-a-half years until Tomás was medically approved as a donor.

“Since 2009, I’d been on nine hours’ dialysis every night and this eventually needed to be supplemented with hospital dialysis. I felt smothered in a way and was unable to do anything as all my time was taken up,” said Brian, a father of two. All of his siblings were tested as likely donors and Tomás was the only match taken forward by Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital. “We’re the closest thing to twins when it comes to matching. The transplant has worked very well. I feel fantastic, am no longer inhibited by dialysis, and my energy levels are much improved,” said Brian. “I can play golf, run, jog, and live a normal life again. It’s hard to find words to describe how good it feels.”

Sales representative Tomás, also a father of two, said he, too, had made an excellent recovery from the operation and paid tribute to the staff at Beaumont.

The operation was carried out by transplant surgeons David Hickey, the former Dublin footballer, and Molly Eng.

Tomás, well-known in golfing circles, recently received a mayoral award in Killarney in recognition of his kidney donation.

Brian, meanwhile, highlighted the need for donors, saying there were only 32 living transplants here in 2012 compared to 131 from deceased donors.

Research shows that living kidney donation offers more advantages to the recipient, including better matching tissue and more time to plan a transplant.

“There’s a lot of goodwill, especially from the families of people suffering from end-stage kidney failure. There’s a need for more living donors, but a lot more can be done to facilitate people who want to donate kidneys,” said Brian.

“For example, things could be made easier for possible donors, including the outsourcing of various medical tests they need to do before they are accepted as donors.”

He also believed there should be more people in hospitals trained to approach the next of kin of people declared brainstem-dead.

Over the last 50 years, about 4,000 people have received the “gift of life” through kidney transplantation, with patient outcomes improving all the time. A transplant offers the best prospects for good, long-term health and has better outcomes than dialysis, according to Beaumont Transplant Foundation.


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