Hugh eternally grateful to his deceased donor
FOR HUGH Byrne the donation of a kidney by an organ donor in 2011 was the difference between life and death.
Hugh (52) from Tullogher, New Ross received a kidney transplant in February 2011 and his operation was highlighted in this newspaper two years ago.
'If from the day you were born to up until just before you die, if you never did anything good for anybody and if you donated all your organs at the last minute you would be doing more good than if you'd been doing good deeds every day of your life. Hundreds of people I know were lifted by the fact that I got the kidney.'
Hugh watched on as his headstone business was dismantled and removed from the quay front in New Ross on Friday following damage in last month's storm, but for this local man his robust health today means he didn't wallow in the loss of the premises. Undaunted he has continued with his work at the garden centre building next door.
After returning from a family holiday Hugh became quite ill and suffered from severe nausea.
He was sent by his doctor to Waterford A&E and within a couple of hours he was hooked up to a dialysis machine. This came as a great shock to Hugh as he had no prior warning that his kidneys were failing. He commenced haemodialysis treatment at Fresenius Kilkenny three times a week for four hours at a time.
'I hadn't a notion about kidney disease. I almost lost my mind while on dialysis; I was physically weak and depressed. You lose any value you have in yourself. I'm now very much aware that there are many people going though this.'
Like most businesspeople on dialysis Hugh had to continue working at his headstone business. Hugh's brother Padraig offered to donate one of his kidneys to his brother but while he was waiting for a transplant and on the transplant waiting list, he was called for a transplant operation.
Hugh said he will be forever grateful to his deceased donor. Within five days of receiving his transplant he was allowed to return home and within three weeks he had returned to work gradually building up the number of days he would work.
Hugh says he will never take his health for granted again. 'It's a complete and utter life transformation; you couldn't describe it unless you'd been through it. It's like if someone came into a room and told you that you were dying and someone then came in and told you we've a surprise for you we're giving you your life back. It's a total game changer and it gives you a totally different perspective. You learn to make the most of every day.'
He said he is forever grateful to the organ donor who gave him the gift of life, while also donating other organs to other people in need.
'When my (kidney transplant) anniversary comes around I am aware that it's the same time of year that the person who gave me the kidney died but at least something good came of it.'
He said everyone goes through periods of bad health but thankfully he has come out the other side feeling better than ever. He thanked the Irish Kidney Association for providing his wife Shaaron and four children with accommodation beside Beaumont Hospital during his kidney transplant.
'The Kidney Association Hostel there has been a truly great help to the many families who find themselves in this trouble.'
With his new lease of life Hugh has given talks to Transition Year students to try to raise awareness about organ donation and he hopes to cover more schools in the near future.
He urged people to get a donor card this week and not hesitate.
'It's a gift that everyone can give and it doesn't cost a penny. It creates an explosion of good fortune.'