Saturday 25 November 2017

A life affirming plea

Carrauntoohil plaque
Carrauntoohil plaque

On Carrauntoohil there is a small stone wall that stands a few feet from the cross at the peak of Ireland's highest mountain. Depending on what way the wind is blowing you can get a few minutes of rest and shelter behind that wall after dragging yourself the 1,038 metres to the roof of Ireland. I'm planning a trip there this summer as it has been four years since I last climbed the mountain.

On a clear day the views are spectacular, the freshest of air fills your lungs and you stand on the top knowing you will eat like a horse and sleep like a baby when get back to sea level.

On a climb in 2009, I spotted a brass plaque, not unlike the memorials you see on church benches throughout Ireland, embedded into one of the stones of the wall. It was a tiny and simple tribute to a stranger who had donated his lungs so that the climber could live.

The climber, Gerry, in turn found a way of expressing the enormity of the gift he had been given. He placed similar stones on the highest peaks of Scotland, England and Wales too. This blew me away more than the views down Devil's Ladder that day.

I have been thinking about this lately as later this year a change in the law is due to be debated before the Dail proposing Ireland have an 'opt out' instead of an 'opt in' system for organ donation. Families would still ultimately need to make the decision but unless you expressly opt out it would be assumed you were open to the idea of organ donation.

I understand not everyone is able to say yes to this at a time of tragedy, but even a small increase in donations will save lives.

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