‘I really needed the kidney transplant and I’m so lucky that I got one’

From the moment she was born, Courtney Kealy had to have a kidney transplant. She was born with kidney dysplasia, a condition most affected babies do not survive.

‘I really needed the kidney transplant and I’m so lucky that I got one’

Tube-fed and hooked up to machines, Courtney spent the first few years of her life on dialysis, in and out of hospital, and waiting for a suitable donor.

“I would be on medication in the morning and the night time and I was fed through a tube in my nose because I found eating difficult. I had a few tubes in my stomach connected to machines. It was very difficult.”

At the age of five, Courtney finally found her match and became the first person to have a kidney transplant at Temple Street Children’s Hospital.

“It was three weeks before I was allowed to go home. Now I just have to go for check-ups. I really needed the transplant and I’m so lucky I got one. I’m so grateful to the staff at the hospital and for everything they did for me.”

Today, Courtney is a happy, healthy 18-year-old studying for her Leaving Certificate. She hopes to go on and study nursing.

Since her transplant in 2003, 100 other children have also received new kidneys at Temple Street Children’s Hospital.

Last year was the busiest year for transplantation so far at the hospital, largely because there has been a rise in the number of people carrying organ donor cards.

“This is a marvellous milestone for our programme and we’re absolutely delighted,” said Dr Michael Riordan, consultant paediatric nephrologist at Temple Street, speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

“Roughly 70% of the children would have received a donation from someone carrying a donor card. It makes a massive difference to the life of these children. There are still children waiting on this list and I suppose one of the things we really want to highlight is the importance of carrying donor cards.”

Some children in need of new kidneys have “unusual antibody profiles” and are waiting because of difficulties finding the right match for them.

“This is why it’s so important that everybody carries an donor card if at all possibly because that increases our ability to find good matches for the children who are taking longer than we would like,” said Dr Riordan.

“It’s hard for us to really understand the magnitude of the impact it makes to children, both in terms of their physical health but also in terms of their confidence and their development.”

Organ donor cards can be requested from the Irish Kidney Association online at www.ika.ie, over on 1890 543 639, or you can free text DONOR to 50050.

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