‘Kidney transplant gave me a second chance’

Proud mum Vienna White and her son Cameron.  (0104JB01)
Proud mum Vienna White and her son Cameron. (0104JB01)

Vienna White from Muff thought she was a picture of health back in 2006 - but then again looks can be deceiving.

It was only when her mum Louise had purchased a home blood pressure tester kit and Vienna, now aged 29, decided to give it a go alarm bells started ringing.

Unlike her other family members, who had checked their blood pressure on the machine, Vienna’s blood pressure was sky high, so much so she thought at first the machine was faulty.

But when a second test showed the same results she decided to book an appointment at her local doctor’s surgery to get it checked out.

Doctors took blood tests immediately and as soon as the results came back she was sent straight to hospital.

Speaking to the Journal the Newtowncunningham relief worker for farms said: “When I went to the doctors to get it checked out and they told me if I hadn’t have come I’d have been dead within a year.

“They suspected kidney failure straight away, and it was in 2006 I was diagnosed with chronic kidney failure.

“They said the kidneys were only working eight per cent, they were so tiny you could hardly see them on the ultrasound.

“The doctors just couldn’t understand how I was even functioning at all.

“The whole thing was just kind’ve out of the blue for me because I had no symptoms at all.”

Immediately after newly-wed Vienna was diagnosed, her life had been turned upside down.

She could no longer spend long weekends away because she had to be back home, every night, to be hooked up to dialysis, which she was on for nine hours every night, for 18 months.

Vienna who had married her husband, Robert (aged 35), just eight months before being diagnosed said their whole lives all of a sudden seemed to revolve around the tiring dialysis treatment.

Vienna was put on the kidney transplant waiting list and said even in her darkest hour she wouldn’t let herself think she may never get that phone call to say doctors had found a match.

She said: “It was a huge shock for me definitely, I was only 24 at the time and I remember just thinking ‘they’ve got the wrong person, the wrong results’, you just don’t think it will ever happen to you.

“It was hard for me but it was hard for my husband and family too. You can’t think the worst, you have to just put it out of your head and hope it doesn’t happen.

“You just live in the hope everyday that that day is the day you will get that phone call to say ‘we’ve got you a match’.”

And luckily for Vienna it was in the early hours of a day in February 2008 that she did receive that call, that she says ‘changed my life’.

She said: “The phone rang at 4am and they just said we had to get to Beaumont Hospital as quickly as we could.

“Everything just happened so quickly and before I knew it I was in theatre.

“They had to do blood tests before to make sure the kidney was a good match and to ensure my blood wouldn’t reject it but as soon as they knew it was okay I was straight in to theatre.

“I was in hospital for ten days and it was about three or four months after before I was able to really do anything.

“It was a very slow recovery but my family were over the moon and definitely my husband was a great support the whole time.”

Now, three years on since Vienna was given a second chance at life she said she’s loving being a mum to her newly-born son Cameron, who is three and a half weeks old.

He was born three weeks premature weighing a tiny 5lb 8oz.

Cradling her newborn, Vienna said: “I don’t take anything for granted these days. Life is very precious.

“It’s even the smallest things in life, like being able to play sports - I play a lot of badminton.”

And in 2009 Vienna’s love of badminton took her all the way to Australia where she competed in the World Transplant Games, representing Ireland, and won two gold medals.

As next week marks organ donor awareness week Vienna’s hoping her story will inspire other people to carry donor cards.

She said: “It doesn’t matter what age you are, there is always a chance that there is somebody going to be a match for you. “When people see me I hope it encourages them to be an organ donor.

“I am very lucky to have been given a kidney, and I know there’s other people who have been waiting a lot longer than me, it all just depends if your are a suitable match.”

For more information about becoming a donor log on to www.ika.ie.