Walkers come out in force for IKA Kerry

Tadhg Evans

O'Dwyer's Mace store in Camp, west Kerry, was the starting point for over 150 walkers on Saturday, as a great many people took time out to give their backing to the Kerry branch of the Irish Kidney Association.

Walk organiser Jimmy O'Dwyer explained that this was the second year of the event, and aside from gathering much-needed funds for the cause, it was also an opportunity to highlight the importance of carrying a donor card and informing your next-of-kin of your wishes to be a donor.

Jimmy himself has a special connection to the cause, as his son, Paddy, received a transplant when he was 25, back in 2014.

"He has his life back," Jimmy told The Kerryman. "He is flying.

"We think we raised around €4,500. But raising some money was only one part of it. We are encouraging people to get a donor card and to tell their families that they want to be donors."

The 10-mile walk started out from O'Dwyer's Mace, eventually making its way back to The Junction Bar in Camp.

While Paddy was obviously at the forefront of people's thoughts, another young man, four-year-old Tomás O'Dowd from Dún Chaoin, was also present, as were members of his family.

Tomás, son of Amanda and Denis and brother to Micheál, undergoes 10-hour dialysis sessions six times each week and requires an adult kidney. His incredible story was covered extensively in The Kerryman in late-March.

During Amanda's pregnancy with Tomás, a blockage to his kidney had put his life in grave danger, and a lack of amniotic fluid around him had left his lungs underdeveloped and his kidneys seriously damaged. But after being born in Cork University Maternity Hospital, he fought courageously. After being diagnosed with end-stage kidney failure just two weeks into his life, he underwent an operation to unblock the tube to his kidney.

Amanda explained in recent days that her four-year-old is still being assessed for entry onto the list for a kidney.

Jimmy extended his good wishes to Tomás, as well as his family on both the O'Dowd and Prendeville side.

If you would like to become an organ donor or find out more, please visit www.ika.ie/get-a-donor-card/.

To donate to the Irish Kidney Association, visit www.ika.ie/make-a-contribution/.