Friday 31 October 2014

Mother's gift of life for son-in-law

Published 30/03/2014 | 02:30

Andrew Gallagher with his kidney donor (and mother-in-law) Jacqueline Foster

THERE is at least one house in Ireland where there will be no mother-in-law jokes this year.

In fact, 29-year-old Andrew Gallagher will even have some extra spoiling to do come tomorrow after receiving the gift of life from his wife's mother.

The Dundalk man has been given a second chance thanks to 51-year-old Jacqueline Foster, who gave a kidney to her grateful son-in-law after learning she was a perfect match.

As Organ Donor Awareness Week, which is organised by the Irish Kidney Association, kicks off, Mr Gallagher spoke of how his life turned upside down when he discovered both kidneys were severely scarred and that he would need dialysis.

He told the Sunday Independent: "When the doctor first told me I couldn't even speak. I was frozen to the chair. I was waiting for my parents or someone else to say something first. I was only 24 years of age. I thought this type of thing happened to people later in life."

While receiving dialysis treatment, Andrew married Jacqueline's daughter, Nicola, in June 2011. The happy couple welcomed their baby girl Evie into the world last September 2013 while he was still receiving treatment.

It was around this time that his mother-in-law emerged as his saviour. Andrew recalled: "I was on dialysis for two years when my mother-in-law went off and got checked to see if she was a match without telling anyone. I remember the day I was sitting in her kitchen having a cup of tea when the phone rang and she went off to take it in another room.

"She came back in with a big smile on her face and said 'how are you fixed for November 4?' I couldn't believe it. She wasn't even related to me. Only that I married her daughter I wouldn't even know her."

Andrew's life was instantly transformed.

"Within a week of the operation I felt like a new person. I couldn't even climb the stairs beforehand I was so out of breath. It's amazing the difference it made, almost immediately. We took a photo of the two of us leaving the hospital, bandages and plasters still on and when I look at that – it gets me. That's when it sinks in what we have been through and what she has done for me.

"The big joke going around the house now is that I can never get a divorce. Even when the programme Mother-in-laws from Hell came on the TV, I was told to switch it off, that it didn't apply to me. The Irish humour has made the most of it alright."

Highlighting the urgent need for donors in Ireland, Andrew urged people to get over their fears and to make it their prerogative to sign up:

He added: "I would tell anyone reading this not to be scared. Getting a donor card means you are saving someone's life. There's no two ways about it. And you can't put a price on that. It's also a great legacy to leave behind one day. To save someone's life? Sure isn't that what it's all about."

Organ Donor Cards can also be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association LoCall 1890 543639 or Freetext the word DONOR to 50050. Visit website www.ika.ie. It is now also possible to store an organ donor card, the 'ecard' on smartphones. Simply search for 'Donor ECard' at the iPhone Store or Android Market Place.

Sunday Independent

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