NEW mum Julia Cummins, who gave birth to "miracle baby" Laoise just six months ago, will never meet the family whose kindness made it all possible.
Julia (36) from Firhouse in Dublin, who received a kidney transplant four years ago, knows her happiness is all due to the donor whose organ was provided for the life-saving operation.
She was among a gathering in Dublin yesterday to highlight Organ Donor Awareness Week, in the hope of giving the gift of life to 600 people who need a transplant.
"So many incredible happy moments have been possible because of donor's gift. Laoise would not exist but for the altruism of my donor's family," she said.
Julia was studying for her thesis when she suffered unexpected sudden eyesight loss and was diagnosed with declining kidney function 2007. "I had no energy and was constantly nauseous," she said.
Julia, who was on home dialysis for eight months, was helped through the ordeal by her boyfriend Caomhan and she knew it was true love when he offered to donate one of his kidneys to her.
Caomhan, who is now married to Julia, had gone through the matching process and was ready for the operation, when a suitable kidney became available from a deceased donor.
Meanwhile, Stephen Smith (34) of Castleara in Cavan has received the same call seven times, but has suffered the crushing disappointment of returning home because the vital donor lung he needs was not a match.
Stephen suffers from Alpha One, a serious lung condition. He was an active GAA player but has had to give up sport and is dependent on a 24-hour oxygen tank to breathe.
"I'm hoping the next call will be the one," said Stephen, who tries to spread the donation message by giving talks in school.
Health Minister James Reilly urged more people to carry donor cards and welcomed figures showing that more than one-third of 83,000 applicants for the new plastic driving licence had ticked the box saying they were willing to be a donor.
Mark Murphy, chief executive of the Irish Kidney Association, said 78 deceased donor organs became available here last year, a 17pc fall compared with 2011.
It was unclear why there were such fluctuations.
He called for an audit of how hospitals are managing potential donors in order to find out where improvements can be made.
Some 1,828 people are getting dialysis treatment, and last year the numbers with end-stage kidney disease increased by 45, or just over 1pc in the year.