MOST people wouldn’t think twice about donating a kidney to a loved one, but to donate to someone you don’t know is an entirely different prospect.
After seeing a documentary on TV, one Limerick man decided to do just that. Johnny Paradise - yes, that is his real name, it is of French descent - a 27 year old financial analyst from Corbally, made the decision to altruistically donate a kidney after seeing GAA star Joe Brolly do the same thing.
After a process that took almost a year, Paradise went through with the donation in recent days, and has changed someone’s life forever. His reasons are simple. Once he had established that you can and will live a healthy life with one functioning kidney, he was happy to donate to someone who needed it.
Johnny’s family needed some convincing and there are those among his friends that will likely never be, but he says that once he got the idea, he couldn’t let it go.
“I watched the documentary and didn’t really know what I was watching and didn’t know Joe Brolly had gone through this whole thing. I thought it was a remarkable thing to do, I couldn’t get over it. It blew me away,” said Johnny.
“I said to myself if this stuff is true - it was more so the facts around being able to live with a single kidney - I will absolutely consider it.”
But then he hit an obstacle. The legislation does not exist in Ireland to donate a kidney altruistically. So Johnny went to Belfast, where the law is different.
Asked to dig deeper into his reasons for deciding to give away an organ, he said it had less to do with the individual recipient, whose details were only relayed to him weeks before the operation - a married man with three children - long after the decision was made.
“I have thought about it and loads of people have asked. The simplest way for me to explain it is I realised from watching the documentary that this was interesting, I needed to investigate this.
“Quite quickly I was realised that there was someone out there - put aside the fact that you don’t know the person - that right now is in immense suffering. I have a key in my pocket if you like, that if I was to take out and give to this person, they would be able to switch this off and turn their life back on.
“There is someone out there on death’s door, deeply miserable, probably won’t have too much longer to live, and you can change that. Not knowing the person does not, in my mind, make them any less worthy of this kidney that I have.
“I had no doubt whatsoever that I would be in perfect health after it. I was also doing it in the knowledge that there is one less person on dialysis, one less person waiting to die. Can you imagine what this Christmas is going to be like for that family, it is going to be the best Christmas they have ever had, because the worry is gone.”