Tuesday 21 May 2019

'It took its toll, he became very sick' - Rose of Tralee finalist on how her grandfather died after kidney failure

Tipperary Rose Laura Durkan with her grandfather on her Communion Day
Tipperary Rose Laura Durkan with her grandfather on her Communion Day

Geraldine GIttens

The newly crowned Tipperary Rose has paid tribute to her late grandfather who lost his battle with kidney failure six years ago.

Pharmacist Laura Durkan (26) from Glenconnor, Clonmel was crowned Tipperary Rose in Thurles last weekend.

Durkan, who is promoting the work of Irish Kidney Association, described her win as a “timely selection at the beginning of Organ Donor Awareness Week”.

She said her late grandfather’s kidney failure experience “ had a profound impact” on herself and her family.

“Six years ago, my grandfather Paddy Durkan, whom I was very close to and loved dearly, passed away in his eighties following over a decade of three times weekly dialysis treatment.”

“We are grateful that the dialysis treatment kept him alive for so long.”

Tipperary Rose Laura Durkan (26)
Tipperary Rose Laura Durkan (26)

“However, towards the end it took its toll and he became very sick and just didn’t have the physical or emotional will to continue the arduous treatment with its side effects, which in the final months, left him without any quality of life. He passed away peacefully two weeks after his final dialysis treatment. The medical and nursing staff who cared for him in Castlebar were outstanding in their knowledge, compassion and care for him throughout his dialysis journey,” she said.

The key message of Organ Donor Awareness Week is that families need to talk to each other about organ donation. Families can keep the reminders of their willingness to donate visible by carrying the organ donor card and permitting Code 115 to be included on their driver’s license.

“It’s heartening to hear that the number of people who received organ transplants last year has increased,” Durkan said.

“This can give hope to all those people who are languishing on waiting lists, and their families, hoping that they will be called for a life-saving transplant.  While sadly my grandfather did not get a transplant I hope that other families who have an elderly relative waiting for a kidney transplant can take heart in knowing that senior age doesn’t have to be a barrier to organ transplantation.”

Pharmacist Laura Durkan (26) reacts when she is crowned Tipperary Rose.
Pharmacist Laura Durkan (26) reacts when she is crowned Tipperary Rose.

“I understand that a number of older people were among those who underwent transplants last year including many in their seventies and even one in their early eighties. I would encourage everyone of all ages to discuss organ donation with their family and let their wishes be known.”

Durkan said she is looking forward to using her profile to promote awareness about organ donation.

“I hope that I can use my profile in this international competition to raise awareness about the plight of people in organ failure and the undisputable benefits of organ donation and transplantation while honouring the memory of my dear grandfather, Paddy Durkan from Ballybeg, near Ballina.”

Organ Donor Awareness Week is organised by the Irish Kidney Association and supported by the ODTI (Organ Donation Transplantation Ireland), and takes place from until today April 7.

Organ Donor Cards can also be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association tel. 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050. Visit website www.ika.ie/card    

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