Shane gets heart op after 20-month wait

Shane O'Connell and his wife Tricia: 'It was like living in limbo'

A 33-year-old father of three who had been forced to live in a hospital for 20 months as he awaited a heart transplant has received a new heart.

Shane O’Connell, from Castleisland, Co Kerry, was yesterday reported to be recovering well from his surgery in the Mater Hospital, Dublin.

A donor became available after he had waited for a lifesaving transplant and had been living in the Mater Hospital since Feb 2012 after being registered on a replacement list.

His wife, Tricia, said it was hoped to move him from intensive care to a high dependency unit in the next day, or two, after that to a ward, and then home.

“It all happened very quickly in the end,’’ she said.

“He had been waiting such a long time in hospital that we were kind of losing hope, but thank God he did get it [a heart] and everything is going really, really well.’’

Dilated cardio myopathy had left Shane dependant on 35 tablets every day, while an IV Milrinone Infusion pumped drugs though his veins 24 hours a day to keep him alive.

But one of the hardest things for him was that he had been living away from Tricia and children, Shauna, 13, Cadhla, 4, and one-year-old Michael, for so long.

As they waited for a suitable donor, Tricia, who remained at the family home, said the couple were living in a constant state of uncertainty.

“Waiting and hoping for someone to donate is very difficult and is like living in limbo,’’ she said.

“Many patients on the waiting list for a transplant have no quality of life. It cannot be termed a ‘life’ while waiting for a transplant, it is merely an existence.’’

She said Shane missed the children and looked forward to seeing them at weekends when she brought them on the long journey from Castleisland to Dublin.

She also stressed the importance of families ensuring the organs of their deceased loved ones go to a good cause.

“Organ donation is such a selfless thing for a grieving family to consider, but it gives someone else their life back whereas otherwise they would just be existing until their time runs out,’’ she said.

“It is legacy that can save the lives of so many people who along with their families will be forever grateful. It truly is a wonderful gift, the gift of life.


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