Life Health & Wellbeing

Sunday 16 December 2018

'It's like giving birth all over again' - Former politician who donated kidney to her son

Jo-Anne Dobson and her son Mark at home.
Jo-Anne Dobson and her son Mark at home.

Allan Preston

Now home safely after donating a kidney to her son Mark, former politician Jo-Anne Dobson has thanked thousands of well-wishers for their support after her "roller coaster of emotion".

The smiling mother and son posted a picture on social media yesterday as they begin the slow process of recovery.

Mrs Dobson, a former MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly),  said she was "absolutely overwhelmed" by the kind messages after the operation on Tuesday.

Mark spoke of the emotional moment he was reunited with his mum after surgery on BBC Radio Ulster on Friday.

"My mum came in and gave me a big hug and I just started crying because I knew we'd got through the transplant," he said.

"My surgeon Tim Brown said the transplant couldn't have been more perfect.

"We'd like to thank him, that's two times he's really saved my life."

On doctor's orders, Mark will need to take things easy for the next three months with regular hospital appointments.

"It will be 12 weeks before we get our life back but it'll be worth it," he added.

Mrs Dobson said she felt honoured she was a positive match for Mark as a kidney donor.

"There is that uncertainty that not everyone who goes forward to be a live donor is capable. It's a lot of very rigorous tests, almost like a full MoT on your body," she said.

"For me personally I was praying, not that I would get through surgery, but that I would be able to do it.

"I honestly do feel it's an honour and feel very privileged to have been able to do it for my son."

She continued: "It's just those experiences, it's a roller coaster of emotion, from going into theatre, crying and hugging Mark before they wheel me down and knowing he'd be following me a few hours after.

"It's life-changing, but very surreal with the mixture of emotions. The most powerful, between Mark and I, is very strong anyway.

"If that can be reinforced any more it was, there's definitely no feeling like it to be able to give your son life a second time."

With her son facing kidney problems since he was a baby, and previously going through a failed transplant, both are now committed lifelong campaigners for organ donation.

"It's important to remember every single one of us has it within us to be a life saver, whether it's telling your family your wishes or being a live donor," Mrs Dobson said.

"I can now speak with even greater authority of what it's like. It's like giving birth all over again - it's a wonderful, wonderful feeling."

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