Sunday 17 November 2019

Cousin's death inspired Joe Brolly kidney gift

Pundit Joe Brolly: organ donation 'just made sense'
Pundit Joe Brolly: organ donation 'just made sense'

Mark O'Regan

GAA pundit Joe Brolly has revealed that the death of his cousin after a lung transplant led him to donate a kidney to a man he has known for just over a year.

The former All-Ireland winner and father-of-five said he jumped at the chance to give PR executive Shane Finnegan (40) the life-saving gift as it would spare another family the same heartache.

Mr Finnegan -- an U-10 coaching colleague at St Brigid's GAA Club in Belfast -- was nearing "the end of the road" when Mr Brolly offered the father-of-two one of his kidneys.

"I knew he was sick and I said, 'Look, I'll give you a kidney.' I'm pretty straightforward. It just seemed to me to make sense," the former Derry star told a Sunday newspaper.

"It was a long shot. There was a lot of sneaking around, going to hospitals."

Mr Brolly said the death of his cousin last year following a transplant operation inspired him to go through with his selfless act.

"I was very, very keen on it because my cousin Catherine, who was a beautiful girl and was the same age as me and married to Danny Quinn, who played on the same Derry team as me, died," he said.

"He added: "She had three children but looking in from the outside, her quality of life was very poor for many years. Then she had a transplant and the transplant was a success -- and then within five or six weeks she died''.

Mr Brolly said looking after a niece when her mother died from cancer also shaped his decision to go through with the operation.

"My wife's sister Brigid died of breast cancer so my niece has lived with us for the past three or four years. She had leukaemia when she was about four or five and she benefited from this sort of altruism from others. She benefited from the care of others.

"She has come through all of that. She has done terribly well and she is a grown woman now.''

The Derryman said that getting older and having children has changed his perspective on life and he now appreciates the world "beyond his own nose".

Mr Brolly, who is recovering in the same ward as Mr Finnegan in a London hospital, said he wasn't surprised when doctors told he was the perfect match as he "always felt that would be the case".

Irish Independent

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