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‘I have got my energy back and can look to the future. It has given me the confidence to open my own business’ – Alan was out of work and on the kidney transplant list this time last year

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Kidney transplant recipient Alan Kelly and his partner Julie.

Kidney transplant recipient Alan Kelly and his partner Julie.

Kidney transplant recipient Alan Kelly and his partner Julie.

wicklowpeople

ONE year ago, Alan Kelly from Courtown had given up work. His kidney function had failed and his life revolved around when his next dialysis treatment would be. Today, the 44-year-old owns and runs his own butcher shop, Kelly’s Butchers in Carnew, thanks to a kidney donation.

Reflecting back recently during Organ Donor Awareness Week, an initiative by the Irish Kidney Association, Alan said he finds it hard to describe the gratitude he has for his kidney donor and their family. He said he has been given ‘a second chance at life’ and ‘feels on top of the world’.

"The transplant has literally transformed my life,” he said. “I have got my energy back and can look forward to the future. My health had taken a very fast and sharp decline in the years leading up to the transplant.

"It was a difficult time being on dialysis, but I tried to stay positive and kept going and my partner Julie my and parents Sheila and John were a huge support to me. I feel on top of the world now and I owe it to my donor and their family.

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"Getting a transplant has changed my life for the better and has given me the confidence to open my own business, a butchers. My schedule no longer revolves around regular dialysis, I don’t have to restrict my diet and fluid intake, I have lots more energy and a spring in my step.”

Alan had been undergoing dialysis treatment for nearly three years before receiving a call early in May 2021 for his life changing kidney transplant at Beaumont Hospital.

Prior to his transplant Alan underwent three different types of dialysis treatment. Initially he attended hospital dialysis three times a week at St. Vincent’s Hospital and then at the Beacon in Sandford.

He then tried a form of home dialysis which involved four hour exchanges four times a day which he tried to revolve around his work.

The father-of-one had worked as an apprentice butcher from the time he was 17 and for a time worked in retail food stores, now, in order to be able to work around his dialysis, he took up employment as a fruit and vegetable delivery man.

Eventually he had to give up work as his health deteriorated to a point where he was continuously exhausted during the day while on peritoneal dialysis, which involved being hooked up to a machine every night for nine hours at a time to filter toxins from his blood.

His life is his own now and he shares his story today to help show others what organ donation means to people who are recipients.

He said: “I am sharing my story to encourage people to think about organ donation and hear about how it transforms lives and the difference it can make to people like me.

“Within a few weeks of my transplant I wrote a letter to the HSE Chief Paul Reid to express my gratitude for the miracle workers who took such good care of me – they were all amazing from nurses to doctors to the transplant team, every one of them were brilliant.

"I’d like to give a special mention also to nurse Emer Kenny at St. Vincent’s Hospital who looked after me so well.”

He added: “I want to send a letter to the donor family to thank them for giving me this second chance of life, but it is difficult to put it into words. When I find those words I will give the letter to the transplant coordinator (his identity must remain anonymous) for it to be passed on to the donor family.”

Organ Donation Awareness Week is organised by the Irish Kidney Association in association with Organ Donation Transplant Ireland. It calls on all people in Ireland to share their wishes and consider registering to be an organ donor by getting an organ donor card.

IKA Chief Executive, Ms Carol Moore, said: “The traditional organ donor card and the digital organ donor card app are there as an ‘icebreaker’ to get the organ donation conversation started.

"The card, or app, is a symbol of your wish to donate, but is not a legal document nor are personal details recorded. Downloading the digital donor card app or requesting a donor card though the IKA website (www.ika.ie/get-a-donor-card), or having Code 115 on your driver’s licence, is a prompt to assist the approach to family members to discuss organ donation wishes.”

She added: “There are just under six hundred people active on waiting lists for organ transplants including heart, lung, liver, kidney and pancreas.

"There was a decline in the number of transplants over the past two years during COVID-19 across all the national transplant programmes

"A total of 206 transplant operations were carried out in Ireland in 2021, which was 16 more than in 2020. This activity in challenging times could not have taken place but for the generosity of the families of 65 deceased donors and 35 living kidney donors.”

Speaking on behalf of Organ Donation Transplant Ireland (ODTI), Clinical Lead, Dr. Catherine Motherway, who is a Consultant in Intensive Care and Anaesthesia at Limerick University Hospital, said: “Every year those of us who work in intensive care and transplantation are humbled by the generosity of our donors and their families.

"To our deceased donors and their families, in the midst of great sorrow, you find it in yourselves to think of others. Thank you! The generosity of organ donors is the bedrock of our transplant programs.”

To find out more information or get your organ donor card, visit  ika.ie/get-a-donor-card/ or free text the word 'Donor' to 50050 or Lo-call 1890 543 639.


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