Altnagelvin Hospital midwife gives father a new lease of life

Altnagelvin Hospital midwife, Aileen Walsh, pictured with her father, Seamus, to whom the Buncrana woman donated one of her kidneys.
Altnagelvin Hospital midwife, Aileen Walsh, pictured with her father, Seamus, to whom the Buncrana woman donated one of her kidneys.

Taking care of people has long been part of Inishowen midwife, Aileen Walsh’s daily routine at Altnagelvin Hospital.

But when her previously very healthy father, Seamus, was diagnosed with end-stage kidney failure, she took that care one step further by donating one of her kidneys to him.

Aileen Walsh is a 37-years-old mother of two boys (aged 9 and 10).

She hails from Buncrana, Co. Donegal and her 66-years-old father, Seamus, is an accountant, who underwent their living donor kidney transplant on July 31 last year.

ORGAN AWARENESS WEEK

Both have now bounced back since the operations and they want to share their story in support of the Irish Kidney Association’s Organ Donor Awareness Week, 2018, which opened on Saturday last, March 31 and runs through to this Saturday, April 7.

Aileen explained: “In the months leading up to Christmas, 2015, my father had been feeling very unwell and on December 23, he was diagnosed with Stage 5 renal failure and was transferred to University Hospital, Galway, for treatment.

He was told that his best option was a kidney transplant, if he could get a match.

“Over the following months there followed several return visits to Galway to the University Hospital Clinic and Bon Secours Hospital for work-ups,” added Aileen.

“As luck would have it, he got three offers of a kidney from my mother Anne, myself and my brother David.

“As David was based in Sydney, Australia, it was decided that both my mum and myself would be tested initially, as potential donors and I turned out to be the almost perfect match, with 5 out of 6 markers and no antibodies.

“I completed my full work-up shortly afterwards and the transplant took place at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, on July 31, 2017.”

The transplant operation has been a huge success to date and the transplant kidney is now functioning very well.

“Both my mother and David, who had returned from Australia to offer support for the operation, stayed at the Irish Kidney Association’s Renal Support Unit in the grounds of the Beaumont Hospital.

“My family used this wonderful facility (Renal Support Centre) for our visits to Beaumont Hospital prior to and after transplant until my father’s care was transferred back to Letterkenny University Hospital after six weeks.

“After the transplant operation I was discharged home after five days and have made a full recovery.

“My father Seamus is easing his way back into work and I am now practising as a midwife in Derry’s Altnagelvin Hospital.”

KIDNEY TRANSPLANT WAS TEXTBOOK PERFECT

Aileen added: “The kidney transplant was text book perfect. The transplant kidney started working straight away inside my father because we were such a good match.

“His quality of life has returned and I feel privileged to have been able to donate to him and see first-hand how life changing organ donation is and to witness someone I love get their life back and have mine back for myself.

“I feel blessed as a living donor that I can witness the benefits of organ donation as so many families who have donated a deceased loved one’s organs don’t get to see the profound legacy that their decision to donate brings.

“There are hundreds of families waiting for organs and not just kidneys but other organs also and are entirely dependent on deceased organ donors to save them,” concluded Aileen.

IRISH KIDNEY ASSOCIATION HAS COME A LONG WAY

Mr. Mark Murphy, the Chief Executive of the Irish Kidney Association, said the assocation had come a long way since its foundation.

“We have come a long way since the Association began and at that time in 1978 there were only three places in Ireland for patients with kidney failure to undergo dialysis treatment. Today there are 23 locations around the country.”

In fact, 2017 was a record year for organ transplantation for Ireland with a total of 327 organs being transplanted into 321 patients including a total of 23 children/paediatric transplants.

It’s thanks to the gift of organ donation that almost 3,500 transplanted people in Ireland are enjoying extended life. At the end of 2017, there were 524 people active on the various transplant waiting pools for heart, liver, kidney, lung and pancreas.

Mr. Murphy added: “Advancements in medicine, combined with our hospitals successful transplanting teams and the generosity of families of deceased and living donors has led to this very positive outcome.

“We hope that this can give hope to the people in transplant waiting pools and the many more people in organ failure hoping to be listed for a lifesaving transplant”.