LOCAL man Paddy Harney prays every night for the precious gift of life given to him by an organ donor. The great grandfather from Mount Sion Avenue underwent a kidney transplant operation eight weeks ago — four and a half years after he went on the transplant list.
Speaking of his gratitude to mark Organ Donor Awareness Week, which takes place this week, the retired Waterford Crystal employee said, “I’m very grateful to the person who donated their kidney to me. Unfortunately someone had to die for me to get better. I’m very grateful for the gift of life, that’s what it is and it is so precious. I can’t think about it or praise it enough; you can only truly appreciate it when you are in this position. I’m not a religious man but every night since the transplant I’ve said a prayer for my donor.”
Sixty-eight-year-old Paddy, who is married to Mary and has four children, 10 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild, was diagnosed with chronic renal failure back in 1996. He awoke one morning to discover that he had suddenly become blind in one eye and this led to him being seen by a Consultant Nephrologist who uncovered his chronic renal failure.
Fortunately Paddy never had to resort to dialysis treatment as he managed to maintain a minimum 25% kidney function from the time of his first diagnosis. When the condition was discovered, Paddy was quite overweight and was ordered to go on a strict diet to improve his health.
“It wasn’t easy, I had a hell of an appetite, but my health spurred me on. I lost five stone in six months and to see that transformation, it was worth every moment,” he said.
On the morning of January 30 this year, Paddy was shocked to get a call from the transplant co-ordinator in Beaumont Hospital telling him to make his way up to Dublin for his transplant as quickly as possible.
“It was totally out of the blue, I thought I hadn’t heard the girl right. The only thing that was ready was the bag, which my wife had packed four and a half years before and kept under the stairs,” he said, joking, “I just had to dust it off.”
The operation was a success and Paddy is gradually making a full recovery, saying that he feels “on top of the world”.
While admitting that organ donation was never a topic that entered his mind before this happened to him, he is urging families to speak about their wishes with each other.
“I think it should be more widely discussed. Children and adults, everyone should be aware. We don’t have to be down in the mouth about it, just have the conversation and move on. After all, this can happen to anyone.”
Irish Kidney Association volunteers will distributing organ donor cards as well as selling Forget-me-not flower emblems (the symbol of transplantation) and other merchandise in Waterford city and county on the last day of Organ Donor Awareness Week, Saturday, April 6.