Saturday 26 May 2018

'Very humbling viewing' - Compelling stories on last night's Keeping Ireland Alive struck a chord

Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

Last night’s Keeping Ireland Alive struck a chord with viewers.

The second part of the documentary series - which was made through a culmination of footage taken by 75 different RTE crews stationed throughout the country over a 24-hour period last May 21 – aired last night.

One patient Joanne McMahon, who is at the National Burns Unit in St James’ Hospital, tells how the front of her body was burnt in an accident while she was celebrating her niece's confirmation on May 30, 2014.

“That afternoon we were out at their house for a barbeque and I have a small little bain marie that I use to keep food hot, and I had taken that out. And underneath it, there’s a tiny little container... and you put methylated spirits into that and light it and put it into the bain marie and it keeps it warm.”

“Because of the strong sunshine, I didn’t realise it had been lit. I didn’t see the flame so I poured methylated spirits on this tiny little container and it ignited and I was leaning over it, so it was all instant,” Joanne told RTE.

“The extent of it was the front of my body, from my head to my knees... and my arms. That was really the full extent of it.”

Her husband Michael McMahon detailed how the family is full of hope for Joanne’s recovery.

“It was shocking. She was all bandaged from head to toe. Everything has changed. Her appearance has changed – everything. But as time has gone on it’s all improving. It’s all changing for the better now.”

The powerful stories told on last night's programme struck a chord with viewers.

Meanwhile, a 36-year-old mother-of-two told how she flew into Ireland from her home in Scotland to donate a kidney to her younger brother last May.

Maria Montgomery lives in Scotland with her husband and two children but came home to help her brother David O’Sullivan (35) from Tipperary.

“He’s my baby brother at the end of the day, even if he is only a year younger than me. I’ve never known life without him and I couldn’t imagine life without him,” she tells tonight's episode of RTE's Keeping Ireland Alive.

“It’s just right. It’s something I have to do.”

“At the end of the day, we just want David to have his life back and to have a better quality of life,” she said.

Maria and David were in Beaumont Hospital preparing for their surgeries when the crews met them.

“If you looked up ‘gentleman’ in the dictionary you would see probably a picture of my brother next to it... I’d do anything to help him,” Maria said.

“We just want to make him better.”

David, whose kidney began to fail when he was 13, said his sister volunteered "from day one" to give him her kidney.

“It was a matter of when rather than if I was going to get a transplant. My sister volunteered from day one. She pushed the process and speeded it up as quickly as she could.”

Keeping Ireland Alive: The health service in a day will air tonight on RTÉ One at 9.35pm.

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