Sunday 19 November 2017

Irish comedian Jarlath Regan to fly to US to help with brother's life-saving surgery

Comedian Jarlath Regan is set to donate a kidney to his brother Photo: Steve Ullathorne
Comedian Jarlath Regan is set to donate a kidney to his brother Photo: Steve Ullathorne
Patricia Murphy

Patricia Murphy

Irish comedian Jarlath Regan said his decision to donate a kidney to his critically ill brother was made "in a heartbeat" after discovering he was a suitable match.

The London-based comedian will fly to the US next week to undergo surgery to donate a kidney to his brother, which he said will extend his sibling's life expectancy by 30 years.

Speaking on the Eoghan McDermott Show on RTE 2fm, Jarlath (36) said his brother has battled with a condition since his childhood, which has seen his kidney function deteriorate to a critical level in recent years.

"Basically what he's had is two flat tires for most of his life, two kidneys that aren’t producing a chemical that can help him regulate calcium in his body. They are essentially a set of batteries that are running down. He's at a critical level so I guess we saw it coming along way off. I was always aware that there would possibly come a day when the question would be put, and when it was put I flew over to Rochester in Minnesota and I was as good a match as he could hope to find. His kidney function was down to 15 and normal is 85. There is no known reason why, considering the number of pints I've drank over the course of my life, but my kidney function is well over 100. So he's going to be rocket-powered by the time he gets this.

Jarlath Regan Photo: Twitter
Jarlath Regan Photo: Twitter

"It’s in a few days and there’s still water under the bridge. I hope everyone can touch wood because we have to hope that his body accepts this kidney," said Jarlath.

Jarlath, who has a six-year-old son, said that while it was an easy decision to make, the stress of the upcoming surgery has fallen on the shoulders of his wife Tina.

"He had the option of dialysis but that would be so difficult. I knew that I wanted to be it. If my brother said to me 'My left foot is ruined and I need you to amputate yours', I probably would think about it.

"My wife is an amazing woman. She is an incredible human being. I asked the doctors was it normal for people to be so blasé about it, as I was, and they said it was. What’s also known is that the person closest to the donor can take on the stress. I really feel that Tina has had to endure a lot of the stress that I haven’t because he’s my brother. She does get that if it was her sister or brother, she’d do it in a heartbeat," said Jarlath.

The comedian, who presents the popular podcast The Irishman Abroad, said Irish people need to be more open about organ donation, which is an potion often skirted around.

"If the organ fails, he won't be stuck. In the States there is an organ donor network over there. Even though his wife isn't a proper match for him, her plan should this not work, her plan is to donate her kidney to someone on the network who needs it, and in exchange find someone who suits him. There are people walking in off the streets in the States who are saying 'I am a healthy human being, I hear you need kidneys, have mine'. Those people have the true hearts of gold.

"It’s a discussion that needs to be had in Ireland. I know that people are dying as a result of the shortage of organs available."

The comedian will be exploring his experience with organ donation on his podcast The Irishman Abroad in coming weeks. For more information visit

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