Sunday 21 January 2018

The most precious gift for Appleby jewellers – a transplant for their son

Simon was photographed with his mother Helen, father Gerry and sister Sophie (26) who will be getting married this July.
Simon was photographed with his mother Helen, father Gerry and sister Sophie (26) who will be getting married this July.

Clodagh Sheehy

IN a gift more precious than diamonds the son of jewellers Helen and Gerry Appleby has been given a long-awaited kidney transplant.

Simon (28) was one of 12 people to be called to Beaumont Hospital in the past week to undergo a transplant operation.

The operation was particularly poignant as the organs of Simon's grandfather, John Appleby, were donated after his sudden death 20 years ago.

"By coincidence the same transplant co-ordinator was on duty at Beaumont," said Helen.

Gerry told the how 20 years ago his father had died very suddenly from a brain haemorrhage. "He was fit and healthy," he recalled.


"We were chatting and laughing on his birthday and he said 'if I do kick the bucket, don't bury me, use any bits you can'.

"Unfortunately three weeks later he was dead."

Gerry said the family had been aware of organ donation because Simon had contracted an infection known as Haemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) when he was just three months old. HUS is where blood cells destruct prematurely and clog the filtering system in the kidneys, which can lead to kidney failure and death.

"There was an outbreak of HUS in Dublin and Simon was one of three children to survive," said Gerry.

Although they were aware of organ transplants, it never crossed their minds at the time that Simon would need one. With medical intervention, a very strict diet and a healthy lifestyle, he managed to stave off dialysis treatment before his life-saving transplant.

"His diet was so restrictive he stopped having meals with the family because he couldn't bear to watch us eating," said Gerry.

"Last night we celebrated with our first family meal together in two-and-a-half years."

Simon is already planning his own "cheese and juice party" next week – two things banned from his diet for years. He is also looking forward to his younger sister Sophie's wedding in July.

He completed a degree in TV and film but was unable to work following a deterioration in his condition – but now he can look forward to a new start in life.

Gerry said the family had been on both sides of organ donation.

"We were the grieving family 20 years ago. Organ donation gives you a certain amount of solace," he added.

Helen agreed that the family's "feelings of elation are tempered with sadness".

"The bright, shining light that has been bestowed on our family is thanks to an anonymous donor. Our thoughts are with the donor's grieving family at this time," she said.

Organ Donor Cards are available by phoning the Irish Kidney Association LoCall 1890 543639 or Freetext the word DONOR to 50050. Visit www. for more.

Irish Independent

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