A paramedic gave his sister the gift of life following a liver transplant in 2013 and now Sean Mullan and his sister Eileen are speaking about the importance of organ donation.
Eileen, a Non Executive Director for the Southern Trust, knows only too well what it means to benefit from organ donation.
Eileen who had kidney disease since birth went into renal failure in 2009 and knew that at some point in the future she would need to go on dialysis or have a kidney transplant.
By January 2013, when her kidney function further deteriorated, Eileen’s brother Sean, a Paramedic with the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service made the decision to find out about the Living Donor Programme.
“I had seen the impact of dialysis from family experience and from my work with the ambulance service of how much it can affect the patient and their family’s lives,” said Sean.
“I was in no doubt that donating my kidney to Eileen would prevent her from having to go on to dialysis and greatly improve her quality of life.
“When I found out I was suitable and that I could continue to live life without any restrictions, I knew this was meant to happen. With the support of the transplant team and from speaking to other friends and relatives who had been through the experience, we were both very well prepared. Our transplant took place in July 2014.”
Speaking about how he felt after the operation Sean added: “What a feeling to wake up and know that I had helped my sister and that within 48 hours her kidney function was normal! Very surreal and mind blowing.
“I know that it is a difficult decision for families to make about deceased organ donation. However, I truly feel that we are a generous but cautious population and if we realise the true potential of being a Living Donor to the people we love and know, the demand for deceased donations would be eased.”
Eileen added: “I never realised just how ill I was, and had got used to being so unwell every day. I have not looked back since Sean gave me the gift of life.
“Organ Donation is a conversation every family should have together. Giving life is the most selfless act and we should all let our families know our wishes, so that they don’t have to have the conversation when we are no longer with them. What are you waiting for, join the register and say I donate.”
The Southern Health and Social Care Trust is supporting a new NHS Blood and Transplant campaign calling on people of all ages to take a few minutes of their time online to register as an organ donor.
Right now across the UK there are 6,500 people – including 150 children, waiting for a call that will change their lives. There are currently 161 people in Northern Ireland on the transplant waiting list. Sadly a shortage of donors means too many people die before they get the transplant they need – in the last five years 68 people in Northern Ireland have died waiting for a transplant.