Giving the gift of life ‘a fantastic thing to do’

Teresa Molloy, Trust Director of Performance & Service Improvement and chair of the Organ Donation Committee.
Teresa Molloy, Trust Director of Performance & Service Improvement and chair of the Organ Donation Committee.
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Organ donation is something which one would expect most health professionals to feel animated about, but for Western Trust Director Teresa Molloy, it is very much a personal passion too.

As the Western Health & Social Trust’s Director of Performance & Service Improvement, Armagh native Mrs. Molloy, has a wide portfolio of responsibilities, including performance monitoring and improvement; car parking; estate services; ICT, communications; porters, cleaners and catering staff, all of whom she said do extremely important work and “oil the cogs of the whole organisation.”

But despite her own extremely busy workload, last year Altnagelvin-based Mrs. Molloy also took on a new role as the Chair of the Trust’s Organ Donation Committee in the wake of her own family’s experience.

Mrs. Molloy has been married to husband Martin for almost 20 years and the couple have two sons, Callum and Mark. Over a decade ago, her husband was receiving medical treatment when it was discovered that he had a previously undiagnosed issue with his kidneys.

Mrs. Molloy said: “We went through a period of nearly 10 years where Martin’s condition was managed through medication and diet, to try and support the function of the kidneys that was left. But as with many people who have kidney problems, over the years, the level of function kept going down. And really it was getting to the stage where we really had to think seriously about Martin being a recipient of organ donation.”

Martin was put on the National Register Organ Waiting List and Teresa put herself forward for testing. “I was tested to see if I would be a suitable donor but I wasn’t. My husband’s brother, Neil, came forward and he was a perfect match.”

Teresa said it was a tense time as they waited on word on the outcome of the procedures at Belfast City Hospital in January 2011.“Everything went well and it has been fantastic now ever since, thankfully,” she said.

Mrs. Molloy said she counted her family as “very fortunate” as there were many, many people of all ages and many families waiting on a daily basis for word on a transplant match which could save and transform their lives.

“That must be very hard,” she said. “It’s a terrible time for people and there’s not always a good ending because people do die while they are waiting for a transplant.”

Kidney donors aside, most organ donations involve deceased donors and Teresa said the latest figures for the Western Trust show that, on average, four people benefit from the organs of one local organ donor.

Mrs. Molloy said it was important people join the Organ Donor Register and even more important that people discuss their wish to be a donor with their family so that if a tragedy occurred, their wishes would be fulfilled.

The Organ Donation Committee work locally with the clinical lead by Dr. Declan Grace and a team of two senior nurses for organ donation, all of whom are on call to respond if there is a possible donation going to happen within the Trust. She praised the work of the team, who stay close to the donor’s family throughout the process.

“It gives real comfort to families afterwards that, although they have lost their loved one, many people have been given a life.

“It’s a fantastic thing to do, think of the benefit you would bring, so make sure, as families, that you know and understand and make clear what your wishes are.

“I’m very passionate about it myself. I always say to my husband, ‘If you don’t donate my kidneys Martin, or donate whatever they want to take, I’m going to come back and haunt you!’”

To register as an organ donor go to: www.organdonationni.info