Farm Ireland

Tuesday 20 March 2018

'I get great consolation knowing there are two people out there who Barry helped'

Farm families urged to consider the gift of organ donation

Barry Shiels
Barry Shiels
Claire Mc Cormack

Claire Mc Cormack

Barry Shiel's life support machine was switched off on Wednesday, February 9, 2011.

On the exact same date, three years earlier, the 25-year-old farmer from Ballinakill, near Loughrea, Co Galway, rattled the back of the net in Croke Park after scoring a goal for his beloved club, Tommy Larkins.

The promising hurler was fatally injured in a car accident near his home where he was planning to take over the family sucker herd. Just a week before the accident, Barry was chatting to his mother, Maureen, about his love of farm life, being his own boss and working outdoors. As his devastated mother faced her grief on that dark spring day, she suddenly remembered another conversation they'd had years before.

"It is life changing when you lose one of your children even though he was an adult child - he always lived at home because he was going to be the farmer. He was a big tall lad, 6ft 3in, real sporty, loved hurling - he won all the county titles up along with his club. Strangely enough, when he was younger he saw an ad about organ donation on television and he said 'I'd love to do that'.

"I said 'aw Barry don't be thinking about things like that, nothing is going to happen to you'. But, I thought of it still when he died, that was what he wanted," she said.

After discussing it with her husband Michael and children Ciara, Olivia, Keith, Michelle and Marina, they agreed to donate Barry's kidneys. His precious gifts were donated to two young men. Their lives have been transformed.

"I get great consolation in knowing there are two young men out there whose quality of life has been improved because they got a kidney each from Barry. They wrote lovely letters to me around his first anniversary in 2012, it gave me a real lift. One said his whole life changed and that he didn't really know how to say thank you, he was so grateful. He planted a tree in Barry's memory to remind him of the wonderful person that gave him the kidney," he said.

Maureen was speaking ahead of The Irish Kidney Association's Organ Donor Awareness Week from April 1-8. The campaign is encouraging people to have a family discussion about their wishes concerning organ donation.

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"I would encourage everyone to carry a donor card and to make their wishes known to their families because it's such a consolation as time goes by," said Maureen.

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