Waiting for the gift of life

  • Niall Hunter, Editor

A mother of three young children has appealed for more organ donors in Ireland as her husband waits for a life- saving heart transplant ahead of European Day for Organ Donation and Transplantation on Saturday, October 12.

Tricia O'Connell from Castleisland, Kerry, whose 33-year-old husband Shane is waiting for a heart transplant, has appealed to the Irish public to support the European campaign which aims to create awareness and increase organ donation levels.

There are around 650 people in Ireland awaiting organ transplants.

The O'Connell's and their three children live in hope for a donor heart which will allow Shane to get his life back and return home from Dublin's Mater Hospital where he has been an inpatient since December last year.

Tricia said: waiting and hoping for someone to donate is very difficult and is like living in limbo, a constant sense of uncertainty. Many patients on the waiting list for a transplant have no quality of life. It cannot be termed a ‘life' while waiting for a transplant, it is merely an existence."

Shane O'Connell was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy at the age of 11. This is a hereditary condition which his late father Michael died from at the age of 45.

Combined with the 35 tablets which Shane has to take every day, he is also on an IV infusion which pumps drugs though his veins 24 hours a day to keep him alive.

Shane has been on the heart transplant waiting list since February 2012.

"He misses our children and looks forward greatly to seeing them at weekends when we travel to Dublin," Tricia said.

"We are very grateful to all the staff at the Mater Hospital for the ongoing care that Shane receives as well as to both our families who have been a huge support, without which, I don't know how we would manage."

"Organ donation is such a selfless thing for a grieving family to consider but it gives someone else their life back whereas otherwise they would just be existing until their time runs out. Its legacy is that it can save the lives of so many people who along with their families will be forever grateful. It truly is a wonderful gift, the gift of life."

According to the Irish Kidney Association (IKA), there are currently over 650 people in Ireland awaiting organ transplants including heart, lung, liver kidney and pancreas transplants.

Thanks to the generosity of the families of 78 donors last year, 206 people received organ transplants, 10 of whom received heart transplants at the Mater Hospital Dublin.

Meanwhile, Mark Murphy, Chief Executive of the IKA, said Ireland's slow decline in the European League table for organ donation can be explained by a lack of action.

He said Ireland is now in 16th place in Europe for organ donation and in 19th place for transplantation.

"The time for discussion on how to improve organ donation rates needs to conclude and be replaced by implementation of an action plan."

Mr Murphy said infrastructural and clinical changes were needed in Ireland to improve organ donation and transplantation.




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