Thankful: Richard McEvoy
ORGAN donor awareness week is just over but for those awaiting a transplant it is 12 months a year.
Limerick-based transplant recipient, Richard McEvoy urges everyone to “talk to your family about your intentions”.
Siobhan Brosnan, organ donation nurse manager, said: “One person can potentially help a maximum of seven other people to get life-saving operations. Not everybody will donate seven organs but the potential is there for seven.”
“Another fact we try to emphasise to people is that they are six times more likely to need an organ than to be in a position to donate,” she added.
While people may carry an organ donor card, or tick the relevant box in their driving licence, it is essential they clarify their intentions with their next-of-kin around donation.
“There is nothing more heartbreaking for families than being in ICU with the next-of-kin and you do not know what their wishes are. The medical staff will not put pressure on families but we will ask them to consider organ donation. We give them the information they need to make a decision with informed consent,” said Ms Brosnan.
Richard McEvoy, a Kilkenny native living in Castletroy, says his life has been completely transformed since receiving a new kidney in December.
He was born with a rare condition called reflux nephropathy but – hospital appointments notwithstanding – had been able to lead a normal life until his Leaving Cert in 2003.
His kidneys were below 15% functionality by the time Richard was put on a transplant list in July 2010. He readily concedes it was his stubbornness that meant he didn’t start haemodialysis in UHL until November 2013.
“It was four hours per session for three sessions a week, something I was doing while working full-time and badminton training twice a week,” said Richard.
“Apart from the dialysis itself, I was feeling sick and nauseous all the time, my energy levels were low, I was restricted in my diet, I had to severely limit my intake of fluids and I couldn’t make plans to travel anywhere. I was much more fortunate than other people waiting on an organ other than a kidney. At least with dialysis, you can manage to get by. You are alive but you are not living,” he said. The call came from Beaumont Hospital last December and he was operated on the next day.
“The change in my life post-transplant is impossible to accurately convey through words – I am a new man. This could not have been possible except for my donor. I honestly can’t thank that person and their family enough for making the difficult decision of organ donation during what must have been a very traumatic and heart-breaking occasion on the loss of a loved one.” Organ donor cards are available from 1890 543 639; www.ika.ie or freetext DONOR to 50050.