Just Say one sentence to your loved ones today
A day of mixed emotions. That's how the mother of a 20-year-old girl, who saved the lives of four people through organ donation, described the annual Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving for organ donors yesterday afternoon.
The service, held by the Irish Kidney Association at Corpus Christi Church in Drumcondra, Dublin, was attended by more than 2,000 people to honour organ donors and their families.
Families of deceased and living donors and transplant recipients of heart, lungs, liver, kidney, pancreas and bone marrow shed bittersweet tears.
Paddy and Maura Ryan, from Templederry, Nenagh, Co Tipperary, donated their only daughter Marie's organs after she suffered a brain haemorrhage on the night of attending the 21st birthday party of a friend.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent this weekend, Ms Ryan said: "It's like anything in life, if you are not in the situation, you don't really think about it until you are landed in it.
"I would say to anyone reading this today: please sign a card and say one sentence to your nearest and dearest: 'If anything happens to me, I would like my organs donated.'"
She added: "At the time naturally we were devastated, and despairing, but when we received letters from people who were given the gift of life again, by our daughter, it was a ray of light."
This annual event, now in its 33rd year, is organised by the Irish Kidney Association, and this year the charity organisation celebrates its 40th anniversary.
Broadcaster Claire Byrne, who is the ambassador for Organ Donor Awareness 2018, recited a Helen Custer poem, A Candle.
Other moments in the service included processions involving families of organ donors, together with organ transplant recipients, bringing gifts to the altar.
You can request an organ donor card for free by simply texting the word DONOR to 50050 or via the Irish Kidney Association website.
The 'digital card' is available from the Google Play Store and iTunes.