Tuesday 6 December 2016

'We were lucky to have been given those extra 13 years'- Widow of CF sufferer Ger Foley on the 'Brightside' of organ donation

Marisa Reidy

Published 01/04/2016 | 12:19

Ger Foley, his wife Grainne and children Peter and Isobel
Ger Foley, his wife Grainne and children Peter and Isobel

The widow of a Kerryman who was the focus of a now viral tribute in his local pub last Thursday has said she hopes the unprecedented attention the online video has received can be used to highlight the importance of organ donation.

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Gráinne O'Sullivan lost her husband Ger Foley to Cystic Fibrosis last week - and within days his friend Brian O'Sullivan's musical tribute atop the bar counter of Falvey's Bar became an internet sensation.

Brian decided to pay tribute to his friend with a rousing rendition of The Killer's Mr Brightside and within days of it being posted online, it had received over one million views.

Read more: 'It's about Ger and Cystic Fibrosis and not Brian O'Sullivan' - Mr Brightside Kerry pub singer breaks down as he pleads with public to carry donor cards

Even the American songwriters themselves took to Twitter to congratulate Brian on his tribute to Ger, known as 'Farmer'.

This week, Ger's wife Gráinne said that while she was gobsmacked at the attention the video - and indeed unassuming Brian - had received, she said it would be fantastic if it could be used to highlight organ donation.

Gráinne explained that Ger - who was a cousin of renowned CF campaigner Billy Burke - received a double lung transplant in 2003 which transformed his life and that it was while waiting for a kidney transplant that he eventually lost his fight.

Read more: The Killers send message to man who paid tribute to late friend in Kerry pub with band's hit 'Mr Brightside'

"The word transformation doesn't even come close to what that transplant did for Ger and our family," she told The Kerryman. "We had Isobel and Peter, we travelled to Australia and all over Europe. I couldn't even begin to describe the difference it made -100 per cent.

"I spoke at Ger's funeral about how lucky we were to have been given those extra 13 years and when I saw the video I couldn't help think how, under other circumstances, he'd have been in the midst of it all."

Read more: Organ Donor Awareness: 'My dad's death wasn't so pointless - he made a difference and saved four lives'

Gráinne said that organ donation allowed Ger to leave an amazing legacy - his two children - and she encouraged everyone to carry a donor card to allow other families experience the amazing years they did.

Brian, meanwhile, has said that while he is shocked at the attention, he too will use it to echo Grainne's message.

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