A fourth-generation firefighter gave his older brother one of his kidneys after a virus left his older sibling with irreversible kidney damage.

Ger Dolan, 27, did not tell his family or colleagues that he had contacted Beaumont Hospital to begin the process to see if he could be a suitable donor for his ailing brother, Jimmy, 32.

The transplant went well and was one of 51 living donor kidney transplants which took place at Beaumont Hospital last year.

The brothers are sharing their transplant story in support of the Irish Kidney Association’s Organ Donor Awareness Week, which continues until April 7.

Three months after the surgery, their 18-year-old cousin from Mayo tragically died. Her family made the selfless decision to donate her organs, having become acutely aware of the transformational life a donated kidney had given to their relative.

The Dolan family has been saving lives in their line of duty for four generations — the brothers’ father, Frankie Dolan, is station officer with Galway Fire Service, where he continues to work after 41 years’ service.

Their grandfather, Jim, was also a Galway firefighter and their great-grandfather, Frank, was one of the founding members of the Galway Fire Service, established in 1928.

Five years ago, as there were no jobs openings in Galway fire station, Ger found work at Cork City’s Anglesea St fire station.

Ger Dolan at a passing out parade in Cork in 2014 with his brother Jimmy, right, and their parents Marie and Frankie.
Ger Dolan at a passing out parade in Cork in 2014 with his brother Jimmy, right, and their parents Marie and Frankie.

A few years later, his brother Jimmy, a corporate travel consultant, followed him south to find employment that would allow him to work around his kidney dialysis treatment times.

“In 2013, I caught a form of vasculitis, a virus which left me fighting for my life as my organs started to shut down,” said Jimmy.

“It was actually a very astute student doctor, Lynn Redahan, who copped the likely diagnosis after I presented in University Hospital Galway.”

In 2016, Jimmy “took a really bad turn” and collapsed outside his workplace.

“I was rushed to hospital where I presented with high blood pressure, severe headache, vomiting, and loss of eyesight,” he said.

“It was discovered that I had internal bleeding relating to my vasculitis illness and I required a blood transfusion.

“An amazing team at [Cork University Hospital] helped me to recovery again. I continued to undergo hospital haemodialysis and it was keeping me alive right up until Ger donated his kidney to me.”

Free information fact files, which accompany organ donor cards, are obtainable from the Irish Kidney Association and are available nationwide from pharmacies, GP surgeries and Citizen Information Offices. Organ donor cards can also be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01 6205306 or freetext the word DONOR to 50050. For more, see ika.ie/card


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