A YOUNG boy is looking forward to happy and healthy Christmas after getting the life-saving kidney transplant he desperately needed.
Ben Kelly, aged nine, was diagnosed with renal failure just 10 days after he was born, and has been plagued by kidney problems all his life.
A large proportion of his childhood has been spent on dialysis machines, a necessary daily routine he has been forced to endure as part of his round-the-clock care.
He was just one of eight brave children honoured at Share A Dream's National Children of Courage Awards in Limerick.
In October this year, Ben's parents Pat and Veronica, from Gorey, Co Wexford, finally had reason for hope after it was discovered that Pat's brother, Joseph, had agreed to donate one of his kidneys to his nephew.
However, in a cruel twist of fate, the transplant was unsuccessful as the organ, which was a perfect match, stopped functioning.
Mr Kelly (34) who also has a two-year-old daughter, said: "It was one of the worst moments of my life when the kidney died and a devastating moment for my brother too. I just thought my world had ended, because we'd waited so long for this and it was the chance we'd longed for to change Ben's life forever. But, at that moment, we suddenly lost all hope."
But last month, another perfectly matching kidney was found, enabling surgeons at Temple Street Children's Hospital to successfully transplant the organ.
The family are thrilled and are planning a special Christmas.
"We couldn't be happier and we're going to make sure we have a very big Christmas for him. On previous Christmas Days, there were times when he couldn't get out of bed and had to sleep all day. He's never been able to enjoy it properly before."
And the celebrations got off to a flying start as the eight children honoured at the awards were told to pack their bags for Disneyland Paris.
The youngsters, all of who are facing daily battles against serious illness or disability, were warmly applauded and cheered for their remarkable bravery.