North Cork man's special reason to thank his mum on Mother's Day
A Cork man who received a kidney transplant thanks to his donor mother had more reason than most to show his appreciation to her this Sunday, on Mother’s Day.
Neil Coleman (30) from Charleville, Cork said, “To attempt to express my gratitude through words would be a disservice to the immeasurable gift my mam has given. I’m alive today due to her selfless donation and words will always fall short of how that really makes me feel. While my gratitude is and always will be ever-present, I’ll still take every opportunity I have to express it that much more to her.”
Marion, a native of Churchtown in Dublin, is a grandmother of two, and was 62 years old when she donated one of her kidneys to Neil, her youngest of three sons, on September 13 2021.
Neil’s shock diagnosis of kidney failure came in 2018, when he was 25. He had been struggling for years with tiredness and lack of concentration.
He said, “While a group of family members and friends stepped forward wanting to donate a kidney to me, my mam was first in line”.
The operation took place at Beaumont Hospital and Neil had to stay in isolation for three months afterwards as the global pandemic prevailed.
Two days after the operation Neil and Marion, who were in separate rooms in a ward for isolating patients, reunited with a warm embrace. Neil said, “It’s not so much the embrace that has stuck with me but rather
chatting to my mother while I was still bedridden and the immense feeling of relief that came with that experience - knowing that she was all right and everything went fine with both of our operations.”
He added, “Waking up for the first time after the operation was as though I had come out of a horrible nightmare and all of a sudden every last worry had melted away. My thoughts were clear and deliberate, I could feel an alertness I had never realised I was missing in the first place.
"I felt like I was me again. My father Jimmy and I had to remind mam to take it easy for a while. Within two weeks of the operation the two of us were home in Charleville and dad looked after us as did Sherlyn, my sister-in-law, who had prepared meals for us for a few weeks.
"By week three Mam felt she was back to normal and full of energy caring for me to ensure I made a full recovery. I struggled to overcome persistent infections which lasted six months but this minor physical setback did not take away from how much better I felt emotionally and physically.”
“So, this Sunday will not only be a treat for my mam. It will be the first Mother’s Day in quite a few years where I feel I am fully myself and not a grumpy son, and I have her to thank for that.”
It was in the hours following his brother’s wedding celebrations that Neil describes how he experienced “a very sobering moment” with the sudden onset of “massive black bags under his eyes”.
Having had a kidney removed at the age of seven and some health issues related to food intolerance in his teens, he was immediately aware that the symptoms he was suddenly experiencing were pointing towards kidney issues. His
self-diagnosis was confirmed after tests at Cork University Hospital.
Prior to the transplant operation, Marion was determined to lose weight and undertook a strict diet and exercise regime. In contrast, Neil struggled to gain weight as it had plummeted by 24kg to just 56kg by the time the transplant operation proceeded at Beaumont Hospital.
However, thanks to his mother’s continued love and support Neil developed a love of cooking as well as finding and making recipes that made what was “a cripplingly restrictive renal diet significantly more manageable”.
Neil describes how this effort was made all the easier through the support his mother and father had given every step of the way. Through Neil’s insistence the three of them joined a gym and made further refinements to their individual diets.
On most days, however, Neil said that he could confidently rely on his mother to help in preparing special
dietary restricted meals and nursing him back to health. Neil has now returned to a normal healthy weight of 70kg.
Neil described the contrast between how he was before and after the transplant.
“I feel like a different person, I am no longer tired, suffering from exhaustion, and I can concentrate my mind. I am back studying Computer Science at UL and back training in the gym three to four times a week.
"Although my diet is complicated by the fact that I am allergic to both dairy and soy, my mother has been a powerhouse of support creating dietary friendly meals for me and helping to regain my health.
"I am looking forward to travelling to France with my girlfriend soon with her guiding me around Paris, her hometown. I am also planning a trip to Chicago to visit my oldest brother sometime within the next year.”