Commentator Brendan McArdle races from Curragh to give brother a life-saving kidney
RACECOURSE commentator Brendan McArdle made a dash from the Curragh's glamorous Irish Derby Festival last night to hospital to donate a kidney to his brother.
Brendan (37) was due to undergo surgery in Beaumont Hospital today after he was found to be a match for his brother Colin (35), who has spent more than three years on the waiting list for organ donation.
"I rode in the charity race in Punchestown to raise money for Kidney Research four years ago. Little did I think I would ever have to go and do what the money was raised for," he said.
It was only a few months after the charity race that the family learned Brendan's younger brother was diagnosed with kidney problems.
"He was three-and-a-half years on dialysis," Brendan, who also commentates at the Dublin Horse Show each year, said.
This required Colin leaving his farm at Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, three times a week for four hours of dialysis in Beaumont Hospital.
"One brother and one sister were also tested. I was the only one that matched. He is my family and brother so of course I was going to help him if it improves his condition," he said.
He was due to go to surgery at 8.30am for the three-and-a-half-hour operation.
Brendan said the number of people who offered him support at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby over the weekend was overwhelming.
"The live donor programme is a special thing to do as it is siblings giving an organ to another but really there are not enough donor cards out there," he said, urging people to carry a donor card from the Irish Kidney Association.
Among the crowds flocking to the derby were singer Ronan Keating, who was performing on Saturday evening at the Co Kildare track; Gay Byrne; rugby star Gordan Darcy, who brought along the Heineken Cup; Peter Stringer and Bernard Jackman; fashion designer Paul Costelloe; former newsreader Anne Doyle; Minister of State Lucinda Creighton and UAE ambassador Khalid Lootah.
The crowds were treated to a stellar performance as the crowd-puller and favourite, the Aidan O'Brien-trained Camelot, overcame the testing conditions to land the €1.25m feature race.
Yesterday, it was the turn of the British-trained Izzi Top to flash past the post in the Pretty Polly Stakes.
Curragh general manager Paul Hensey said the switching of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby from its traditional Sunday slot to Saturday evening had proved a major success.
He said the crowd figure of 23,211 for derby day was up about 500 on last year.
"My recommendation would be that we stick to the same plan for next year," he said.