All-Ireland winner and Derry Journal columnist Joe Brolly has been hailed a hero after donating a kidney to a fellow GAA coach. An operation to transfer his kidney to Shane Finnegan was performed at Guy’s Hospital in London on Wednesday.
Mr Brolly, (43), a father-of-five, and Mr Finnegan, a father-of-three, are both recovering at the top London hospital.
In a statement on the club’s website, Mr Brolly from Dungiven, said he had been “honoured to have been in the position to help Shane”.
“He’s been waiting for a transplant for over six years and when I heard that the only possibility of one was through a live donor I contacted his medical team,” he said.
“And, of course, in my considered opinion it’s all going according to plan - and thankfully the doctors concur.”
Mr Finnegan, who works for Aiken PR in Belfast, said Joe’s altruism had been “overwhelming”.
“There are no words to thank him or his family for his wonderful gift,” he said.
“I know it’s early days, but I’m so relieved that it’s all going well for both of us so far.”
Senior Ulster GAA official and close friend, Ryan Feeney, said they were on the “road to recovery”.
“I’m very, very proud of Joe,” said Mr Feeney.
“He is truly a great man - this is one of the most selfless and compassionate acts of friendship ever undertaken.”
Mr Brolly and 40-year-old, Mr Finnegan, coach an under-12 side at St Brigid’s GAC in South Belfast, where both men’s sons play.
Mr Finnegan is understood to have had dialysis three nights a week for the past six years after he suffered kidney failure.
Mr Brolly, a barrister and popular face of GAA coverage on RTE, won the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship with Derry in 1993.
His weekly column in the Derry Journal, ‘Brolly’s Bites,’ is one of the most read columns in the newspaper, attracting thousands of hits on our website.
Mr Brolly and Mr Finnegan felt well enough to pose for a photograph together at Guy’s Hospital on Friday, where they remain under close medical supervision.