Elaine Condron Maguire
An Athy woman is campaigning to raise awareness of the value of the Irish Kidney Association for those who might need it.
But her reasons are precisely because she wasn’t aware of its existence as she made her own journey through a kidney transplant a number of years ago.
It was only after her operation that Elaine Condron Maguire, a retired teacher, became aware of the organisation and its benefits.
“One in 10 of us will be affected in one way or another by kidney disesase,” she explains.
In her case, she became ill in 2007. She was feeling very tired all the time, and not able to do many of the things we all take for granted.
Dialysis can take up to four hours, not including the time it takes to travel to and from the hospital.
Once diagnosed with kidney disease, she went through two years of diaslysis three times a week until, in 2009, she received the all-important phone call to get to Beaumont Hospital for a transplant. Although she feels she was lucky, compared to many, because she didn’t need to get dialysis as often as others, the procedure is still a huge disruption in the life of the patient, and in the lives of their families.
“Not only are there four hours spent getting the dialysis itself, but there’s also the travelling to and from the hospital.
“There is no dialysis done in Kildare. The nearest places are Dublin or Tullamore.”
It is hard to imagine, meeting her now, that the vivacious woman speaking to me was once so ill, but Elaine recalls a Christmas Eve when she hoped to get out of dialysis early to get a few last- minute bits for the festive season.
However, her transport was delayed and she didn’t get home until 7.30 that evening. It was a low point for her.
In 2009, she got the call late one Friday night to go to the Beaumont hospital. Coincidentally, she was watching the Late Late Show at the time and had entered a competition for a holiday on the show.
So when the call came she thought she’d won a holiday. But, speaking to the Leinster Leader last Tuesday morning in Athy, she says: “I didn’t win the holiday, I won the lotto.”
The kidney she got from her donor was one of two, and to this day she remains great friends with the other recipient of a kidney that night, a woman from Navan who she describes as her “sister”.
“We’ve been friends ever since. We have the same DNA in us!”
The surgeon was Dilly Little, from Borris in Co Carlow, something that pleases Elaine, as somebody who has lived part of her life in Carlow.
Now, all these years later, having successfully received her new kidney she is enjoying life in a very positive way and wants to highlight the benefits of the Irish Kidney Association, which helps people with kidney disease in numerous different ways.
“If only I had known what it does at the time,” Elaine says, noting that membership is free. She pointed to things like free counselling “which I think is very important”.
The charity meets the needs of kidney patients, their families and carers. In their literature, the IKA points out that the reality of kidney disease “is that it may impinge on many strands of a person’s life, including health, employment, education, social life and relationships, physical fitness and general well-being. “The net effect, for a family, may be that they rely on disability benefit and related welfare. The additional costs of ongoing medication and care places considerable strain on the individual and their family’s budget.”
“They even look after people who are in dire straits financially,” Elaine explains. The IKA has a renal support centre at Beaumont Hospital and also has a number of holiday centres all around the country.
The IKA also has a dedicated dialysis holiday co-ordinator who manages the bookings to the Association’s Tramore and Tralee holiday facilities, but also helps patients to source foreign haemodialysis treatment.
Diet is a major thing for people who are living with kidney disease, and the Association helps with handy tips. “It’s a no-brainer!” Elaine jokes.
Visit www.ika.ie or call 01 6205306.