Thursday 14 November 2019

'Even in death, Aisling cares for others'- father of woman (21) who died in kayaking tragedy says she gave 'gift of life' through organ donation

University Hospital Kerry. Photo: Domnick Walsh
University Hospital Kerry. Photo: Domnick Walsh
Mícheál Ó Scannáil

Mícheál Ó Scannáil

THE father of a young woman who died following a tragic kayaking accident has said that she has given others "the gift of life" through organ donation.

Aisling O'Connor (21) , originally from Skibbereen in Co Cork, passed away on Monday after getting into difficulty while kayaking in Caragh Lake, Co Kerry, on Saturday.

She was recovered before being taken by air ambulance to University Hospital Kerry in Tralee.

Her heartbroken father David O’Connor said that within minutes of his daughter passing away, the organ donation team identified that Aisling as the perfect match for a patient in need of a liver donation.

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The Biochemistry student was a registered organ donor, and her father said that "even in death, Aisling continues to care for, enrich and help others in need."

He said in a letter to Cork's 96 FM Opinion Line with PJ Coogan today: "As I write this, my beautiful baby's organs are being harvested to help the lives of others.

"Incredibly, within ten minutes of her being pronounced dead yesterday, the liver transplant team identified Aisling as a perfect match for a patient of theirs.

"Whilst our lives are shattered and will never be the same again it is important to know the gift of life we all possess through organ donation, even in the face of tragic loss and heartbreaking senseless death of someone so young."

The O'Connor family had spent the last few years living in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal and Aisling was studying in the University of Limerick.

She had been on a kayaking trip with a group from UL when the tragedy happened, a male student was also injured in the incident but is in a stable condition.

Mr O'Connor paid tribute to her, saying she was a "wonderful and special person".

"There would not be enough time or words for me to convey to you the essence and character of this simply wonderful and special person," he said.

"She enriched the lives of everyone she encountered - loving, bubbly, bright, vivacious, caring... I could go on and on - always taking care and looking out for others.

"She was a role model in every sense of the word and set the example for many especially for her brothers Ciaran and Matthew and her sisters Clodagh and Maeve. Please think of Aisling and wish her well on her onward journey where I know she is lighting up the lives of everyone she encounters."

UL President, Professor Desmond Fitzgerald, is also among those who have tribute to Aisling.

"I am very saddened to inform you of the untimely and tragic death of one of our students, Aisling O’Connor, Year 3, Industrial Biochemistry," he said.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Aisling’s family especially her parents Sorcha Begley and David O’Connor, her brothers Ciaran, Matthew  and her sisters Clodagh and Maeve. 

"We will work to support Aisling’s friends, class mates and club mates here at UL in coming to terms with this loss. Any student who feels they need support can contact The Chaplaincy, UL Eist and UL Student Life."

  • To request an organ donor card or for more information about becoming a donor please visit here

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