ORGAN donation is something with which most people agree in principle, although far fewer actually carry an organ donor card. For one Kildare family, however, the whole issue is very much a reality, rather than an aspiration.
Recently, Clane brothers Paul and Colin Clare shared the life-changing experience of a living kidney transplant, with Paul, who now lives in Castledermot, donating his kidney to Colin. Sadly, it wasn’t the family’s first experience with organ donation. When Colin and Paul’s sister, Sandra Cribbon, the mother of three children, passed away a year ago at the age of just 47, her husband John and the family agreed to organ donation following her death.
The virtually miraculous benefits to the recipients of organs were already known to Colin at that time, as he had previously undergone a kidney transplant from a deceased donor, 21 years ago. That transplant served him for two decades, allowing him to live a normal life. When that kidney eventually failed and he was back on dialysis, he and his brother Paul ultimately reached the decision to opt for the living transplant.
With the operation now successfully behind both brothers, they are planning to participate in the annual Run for a Life, organised by the Irish Kidney Association, which takes place on Sunday 13 October, coinciding with the European Day for Organ Donation and Transplantation.
“I would say that the importance of carrying an organ donor card cannot be expressed enough,” Colin Clare told the Kildare Nationalist.
“When you are ill, it doesn’t only affect you, it affects your whole family because everyone in concerned. I come from a large family and when I needed the transplant second time around, eight of them went to be tested. I have to say that Paul was marvellous and it’s great when a family member is a good match but there are people out there on waiting lists who are just hoping for a call.”
Colin added that while dialysis offers a vital treatment to those with kidney failure, those in need of other organ transplants, including hearts, lungs or liver, may not be so fortunate in terms of ongoing treatments.
“That’s why carrying an organ donor card is such a good thing to do because although obviously it’s tragic when someone passes away, in whatever circumstances, it is possible that another life can be saved.”
Colinhasalwaysmaintained a positive outlook and has focused on having a good diet and keeping physically fit, which benefited him in the aftermath of his surgery. Now both he and Paul are planning to take part in the Run for a Life, which starts out from the Park West business park, Dublin, at noon on Sunday 13 October. Participants can choose to run or walk 3.4, 6.7 or 10k distances, depending on ability and fitness.
Joining the Clare brothers on the Run for a Life will be Newbridge woman Sonia Treacy, also a recent kidney recipient, who was diagnosed with kidney failure at the age of 21 and who had already had a previous transplant which served her for eight years.
Back on dialysis and awaiting a suitable donor, she was “overjoyed” to receive the call but acknowledged that she burst into tears when finally told at Beaumont hospital that the operation would be going ahead, because of her awareness that the donor’s family were experiencing the very opposite the shock and sadness of losing a loved one.
“My brother was with me and when the nurse told us that the surgery would go ahead , we just asked for a few minutes and both of us got very upset. Then we just said a prayer for the donor’s family. It’s a double-edged sword, because just as you are celebrating, other people are at the lowest ebb in their lives.”
Sonia, who is now in her 30s and lives at Liffey Hall in Newbridge, believes many people don’t carry organ donor cards because they simply “don’t think about it”.
“I was on dialysis for three-and-a-half years, with a lot of ups and downs. When you are waiting for a transplant, it’s like your life is in someone else’s hands but when you are given the news that an organ is available, it is really the most marvellous gift. It’s the best gift anyone could ever receive that’s what we want people to think about.”
Full details about the Run for a Life event are on www.runforalife.ie, while those interested in having an organ donor card can freetext DONOR to 50050.