Four students at the Maynooth University, who have all been touched by organ failure, are holding organ donor awareness activities at the campus during Organ Donor Awareness Week which is next week, March 31 to April 7.
Two of the students, Peter Kearney (from Celbridge) and Meadhbh McGivern (from Leitrim) underwent organ transplants as children, a kidney and liver respectively. The other two, Cassandra O’Brien (Navan) and Donal Ryan (Kilkenny city) were involved in the living kidney donor process.
One of the organisers is part-time DJ, Peter Kearney (26), from Celbridge, who is studying Business Management. Peter underwent a kidney transplant when he was just two and a half years old. In September 2017, he returned to dialysis treatment as his transplanted kidney failed after twenty-three years.
He is keen to promote organ donation and last November, he organised information stands on organ donation on campus which attracted great interest and participation from students and staff alike resulting in close to 500 people making an informed decision to carry an organ donor card.
Peter explained that, “Soon after I was born one of my underdeveloped kidneys had to be removed and then a year later I underwent another operation for the removal of my remaining kidney. Then came nightly sessions of dialysis treatment which was doing the work of my missing kidneys and keeping me alive. The treatment was a form of home dialysis, called peritoneal, which I underwent every night for eight hours at a time.
“I have no memory of this tumultuous time in my early life, but I understand from my parents that it was a very worrying time for my family as I was very sick and needed a transplant to survive. The successful kidney transplant which I had received from a deceased donor brought me through my early childhood, teens and into my early twenties,” he explained.
“There is no way to express in words how grateful myself and my family are to my deceased donor for giving me a chance at life. Although I had known for some years the inevitability that my transplant kidney would eventually fail, it was still difficult to accept when I reached to point of having to return to dialysis treatment in September 2017. I now attend Beaumont Hospital three days a week for 4 hourly treatments.
“I’ve had to split my academic year into two years because of the constraints that my dialysis brings. I remain positive and like a challenge and hope that I can help make an impact in spreading organ donor awareness.”
The four students have joined forces to organise information stands on organ donation at three locations around the campus during the Irish Kidney Association’s Organ Donor Awareness Week and are set to host a discussion forum on organ donation.
Guest speakers will include Colin White, the National Projects Manager of the Irish Kidney Association and taking part will be the Dr. Haydn Gurmin from Maynooth’s Department of Philosophy who will tie in the discussion with social policy and ethics as part of the Applied Social Science course which Cassandra, Donal and Meadhbh are studying.