A MOTHER believed to be the first in the world to give birth after a triple transplant today called on the public to carry life-saving donor cards.
Cystic fibrosis sufferer Deirdre Roche Doherty paid tribute to the grieving families who donated her lung, heart and kidney, saying without them she would never have had her 13-month-old daughter Ruth.
The 34-year-old first underwent a gruelling double heart and lung transplant at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London when she was just 19, and received a kidney in 2009 in Beaumont Hospital when her own was damaged by medication.
"I never thought I'd have children, but it was always in the back of my mind," said Mrs Roche Doherty, a secondary school teacher from Graignamanagh, Co Kilkenny.
"My consultant said I got my transplant to live my life so there was a possibility.
"We waited a year until after my kidney and then I was very lucky to get pregnant.
"It was fantastic. It's great having her.
"Life was a struggle but now I lead a normal life like anybody."
Anita Ainsworth is also celebrating the birth of her daughter Evey, now four months, after undergoing a successful double lung transplant.
The mother of two was given just six months to live when she was diagnosed with a rare lung disease, known as LAM (lymphangioleiomyomatosis), which affects just one in a million women.
"She's brilliant," said Ms Ainsworth, 34, from Tuam, Co Galway.
"We never thought we'd have her. But now life is as normal as can be."
The mothers helped launched Organ Donor Awareness Week - from March 31 - which urges everyone to carry a donor card.
The Irish Kidney Association is also calling for an Irish organ donor registry so the public can place themselves on an electronic database.
Ms Ainsworth was diagnosed in June 2006 in Mayo General Hospital, Castlebar, just months after giving birth to her first child, Ayla. Medics in Australia and New York had previously told her she suffered from asthma.
"In July I was given six months to live and I got the transplant in January," she said.
"I was scared and excited at the same time there was light at the end of the tunnel and that something was going to happen so that I'd be able to breathe."
Last year there was a record 93 deceased organ donors in Ireland, with families consenting to donate 248 organs to critically ill patients. Some 27 living donor kidney transplants were also carried out.
Almost 2,800 people in Ireland are enjoying extended life away from hospital as a result of receiving organ transplants.
But there are also more than 650 people in Ireland awaiting organ transplants.
Mrs Roche Doherty - whose teenage sister Orla died from CF in 1991 - said less than 30% of her lungs worked by the time she had her first transplant.
"When I got my transplant I went back to college, trained as a secondary school teacher and got a full-time job," she continued.
"That wouldn't have been possible without the donor's family and the organ donation.
"I wouldn't be here without their kindness. It's so important to carry a donor card and to tell your next of kin you want to donate."