Saoirse Perry: ‘I was too sick to be scared about transplant’

Saoirse Perry knew she was close to death before she received a liver transplant last year.

“I think I would have died if I had not got the liver. I don’t like thinking about that side of it,” she said yesterday.

The 22-year-old student from Cabra, Dublin, has cystic fibrosis, which affected her liver. At one stage, she fell into a coma for three days.

“I remember looking out of the car and just wanting to walk around town like everybody else, but I was too sick to do that,” she said.

Saoirse, who attended the launch of Organ Donor Awareness Week at the Mansion House in Dublin yesterday, is completing an Arts degree in Maynooth University in Co Kildare.

She went on a transplant waiting list in January last year, and in April underwent an eight-hour transplant procedure in St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin.

Saoirse said she was not a typical CF patient.

“With my genetic mutation, my lungs were not affected, but my liver was, and that started affecting other parts of my body,” she said. “I ended up having diabetes for a year.”

Around three weeks after the transplant, Saoirse started to feel well again.

“I was too sick to be scared,” she said. “The year before I had the transplant was 10 times worse than the transplant itself and the recovery process.”

Saoirse Perry: ‘I was too sick to be scared about transplant’

Asked about her plans for the future, she said she did not have any.

“I don’t have a plan,” she said. “I just want to go with the flow. I know people say you should seize the moment, but when you come close to death you just want to enjoy the little things.”

Saoirse wanted her donor family to know how grateful she was.

“I cannot stress enough how much they have changed, not just my life but everybody that is connected with me,” she said. “They are heroes of this world and will never be forgotten.”

Pat O’Sullivan, from Mallow, Co Cork, was diagnosed in 2002 with chronic kidney disease and undergoes nightly dialysis treatment for nine hours at a time.

Pat, 49, a married father of two, is Irish Rail’s operations manager for Cork and Kerry. “Once I can get up and go to work for the day, that will do me,” he said.

“I hook myself up to a machine every night to keep myself alive. At least I have that choice. I know there are people worse off than myself who would love to be able to do that to keep themselves going.”

Health Minister Leo Varadkar, who launched the Irish Kidney Association campaign, picked up his first organ donor card at the event.

Pat said everyone should carry a donor card: “There is no point in bringing your organs to heaven. Heaven knows we need them here.”

Last year, 251 transplants were performed because of the generosity of 63 deceased donors and 40 living donors.

There was a sharp decline in the number of deceased donors last year over the previous year — 63 compared with 86 in 2013, when 294 people received organ transplants.

Organ donor cards can be got by phoning the Irish Kidney Association LoCall 1890 543639 or free text the word ‘DONOR’ to 50050.

www.ika.ie

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