A MOTHER of three young children has appealed for more people to become organ donors as her husband awaits a heart transplant to save his life.
Shane O'Connell (33) was only 11 when he was diagnosed with dilated cardio-myopathy, a hereditary condition that claimed the life of his father Michael at 45.
He has been living in the Mater Hospital in Dublin since December while Tricia tries to keep life as normal as possible for the couple's three children, Shauna (13), Cadhla (4) and Michael, who turns two tomorrow.
At the weekends Tricia travels from the family home in Castleisland, Co Kerry, with the children so they can have some precious time with their father.
"Michael was only three months old when Shane was put on the waiting list so he has missed out on so much of his growing up," Tricia told the Irish Independent.
"It's hard on everyone but I think it's hardest on Shane.
"It's like living in a bubble and we've just had to put our lives on hold."
Shane's condition began to deteriorate when he turned 21 but his decline accelerated further in September 2010.
When he was 26 he had an operation to install an ICD defibrillator, which meant he could no longer work as a lorry driver. This stabilised his condition and he worked as an auto parts salesman.
He now has to take 35 tablets each day and is also on an IV Milrinone infusion, a device he has to carry around with him at all times that pumps drugs through his system to keep him alive.
The family hopes that by speaking about their situation ahead of European Day for Organ Donation and Transplantation on October 12 it will encourage more people to carry donor cards.
Currently, there are 650 people in Ireland on a waiting list for organ transplants.
Donor cards can be got by free texting 'DONOR' to 50050 or by calling 1890 543639 and can also be stored on smartphones by downloading the free organ donor ecard application.