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Thursday 2 October 2014

Gran treasures life 40 years after transplant

Clodagh Sheehy

Published 03/04/2014 | 12:26

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Christine Kelly (63) from Griffith Avenue, Dublin and family. She has been living 40 years after success of organ donation
Christine Kelly

DUBLINER Christine Kelly has defied all medical predictions and is celebrating the 40th anniversary of her kidney transplant operation in Jervis Street Hospital.

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Usually kidney transplants need to be replaced after 20 years. But the 63-year-old grandmother from Griffith Avenue on Dublin's northside has beaten that record twice over and is now the longest lasting organ transplantee in the country.

Christine told the Herald how terrified she was in August 1973 when her only kidney ruptured after the birth of her second daughter.

"I never knew but the doctors found out I had only one kidney and that it had ruptured," she said. "I had to go on dialysis but my veins weren't good and they told me I needed a transplant.

"I was kind of scared because the operations were new and not very successful at the time."

Christine's older sister Mary proved to be a perfect match for a living kidney donation and the two sisters underwent surgery on Christine's third wedding anniversary on March 1, 1974.

"I never looked back since," she says.

CANCER

Sadly Mary, a mother-of-five, died in 2000 of breast cancer and a year later Christine developed the same cancer because she carried the same BRCA1 gene.

Christine had a breast removed and 18 months ago she also had open heart surgery for a valve replacement, but she insists her health is good.

"I think positively. I get on with life. I don't class myself as being sick. I never did," she said.

"I couldn't thank Mary enough. If it wasn't for her I wouldn't be here."

Christine says she treasures every day of her life and urges everyone to carry an organ donor card.

This is Organ Donor Awareness Week which is organised by the Irish Kidney Association and continues until this Saturday, April 5.

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