Leaving a legacy of giving life

donor Ballinagh woman tells of her experience waiting for transplant

A Ballinagh woman is one of the organ recipients to highlight the enormously positive impact a donor made to her life.

Siobhan Brady told her journey, which led to her undergoing a combined kidney and pancreas transplant in 2020 at St Vincent’s Hospital, in a short film played at the launch of Organ Donor Awareness Week last Tuesday.

Siobhan felt compelled to add her voice to the campaign: “I’ve gotten so much from organ donation. It’s so important to me. It’s nice to be able to do something. If someone is influenced by something I do to make an organ donation, then it is worth it. It’s a very minor thing compared to the second chance of life I’ve been given. I feel incredibly lucky and blessed,” she told the of her contribution.

While the event was held in the Mansion House, Dublin, Siobhan’s story was conveyed via video as she was enjoying her first holiday since her transplant in Dubrovnik.

In the moving short film, Siobhan explains how her organ failure stemmed from an infection picked up on a work trip to India: “I got quite sick in 2012. I had E. coli, a couple of bouts of septicaemia, I got really, really ill from it. The early days were fine, creatinine levels may have been above normal or high, but they were not at toxic levels.

“In 2016 I really started to struggle. The dialysis does help, and for the first year I was in good form, but it got tough as it progressed. Dialysis does give you a certain amount of capacity to ‘do life’ in a way, but with other types of organ failure there is very little you can do.

“Living with organ failure is hard, but there is hope. While I always felt that one part of my life wasn’t exactly easy, it didn’t have to have an impact on every part of my life.

“When I think about my donor and my organ donor family, it’s with an outpouring of love and gratitude from the very depths of my soul, and I can only hope that some of that sentiment reaches their own hearts.”

Prior to her transplant Siobhan says she was pragmatic about her future.

“When you are sick for a while and you think about life after transplant, about how that might feel, you are reluctant to think too positively about it, in case something does go wrong. You get used to being sick. When you get that second opportunity to do normal things without thinking about it, it’s an incredible gift. It really does change lives.”

Siobhan’s gratitude to her donor and their family is to the forefront of her mind: “I like to think of my Dad and my donor hugging it out in heaven, as I would hope to at some stage,” she acknowledges the tragedy of death, but stresses the impact that making a donation can have on others.

“If you can leave the legacy of giving someone a life back, who otherwise would have lost theirs, then regardless of anything else, that will have been a life well lived.”

On this year’s organ donor awareness poster features 42 grateful transplant recipients’ photos feature including that of Rose Dalton, a kidney transplant recipient from Cavan and Monaghan natives, Thomas Flannery (lung), Jason McKenna (kidney) and Kevin Hickey (heart).

Organ Donor Awareness Week takes place from April 23-30.