Living Kidney donor and RTÉ broadcaster Vivienne Traynor has been named the ambassador for Organ Donor Awareness Week 2016 which is organised by the Irish Kidney Association. Vivienne has a personal connection to organ donation as she donated a kidney to her nephew Martin Traynor. Martin then needed another transplant five years later which he received from a deceased donor.
Following the first transplant which they underwent in the UK, Martin became a father for the first time to Ted (now 3). The circle of life continued after Martin’s second transplant at Beaumont Hospital and he and his partner Mary have since become parents for the second time with a baby sister Daisy (now 10 months) for Ted.
“When news came through that a second kidney was available for Martin I was at first elated but this feeling was very quickly replaced by thoughts for the deceased donor and their family. I was really touched that a family in the midst of all their grief took the time to consider someone else. I cannot find the words to express what that meant to us at that moment, on that day and every day since. It is something I think of regularly and I know Martin thinks about it every day. To see Martin come back from surgery in a matter of hours and given a whole new lease of life was one of the greatest things I have witnessed. The kindness of strangers meant so much to us that day.”
Vivienne explained that she was honoured to be able to donate a kidney to Martin in July 2009 following his three years of dialysis treatment. Her sister Gina, Martin’s aunt, had also come forward for testing but my kidney was chosen towards the end of the testing process.
Unfortunately after five years Martin’s original condition, IgA nephropathy, returned and it started to affect the transplanted kidney. By mid-2014 he was back on dialysis and eventually placed back on the waiting list for another transplant. He was just six weeks on the list when a kidney from a deceased donor became available in November 2014.
“I am delighted to have been invited by the Irish Kidney Association to be the ambassador for Donor Awareness Week and I hope that by sharing the story of donation and transplantation in our family we can help other families to start the conversation about their wishes surrounding deceased organ donation.”
There are approximately 700 people in Ireland awaiting life-saving heart, lung, liver, kidney and pancreas transplants. Thanks to the gift of organ donation over 3,000 people in Ireland are enjoying extended life. The focus of Organ Donor Awareness Week is to raise awareness about the ongoing and ever increasing demand for organ transplantation which relies on the public for organ donation. Its key message is that families need to talk and keep the reminders of their willingness to donate visible by carrying the organ donor card, downloading the Smartphone App and permitting Code 115 to be included on their driver’s license.
Organ Donor Awareness Week also serves as a fundraising exercise for the Irish Kidney Association that runs from April 2nd – 9th, 2016.