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  • Northside West

I think of my donor every day

Monday, 4th April, 2016 8:00am

Story by Jack Gleeson
I think of my donor every day

Aoife Murray from Clonsilla has a new lease of life thanks to her donor. PHOTO: CONOR MCCABE

I think of my donor every day

Aoife Murray from Clonsilla has a new lease of life thanks to her donor. PHOTO: CONOR MCCABE

A LOCAL woman who has been given a second chance at life thanks to a liver transplant told how her donor is never far from her mind.

Aoife Murray from Clonsilla had her life-transforming transplant just six months ago and wants to spread a message of hope for Organ Donor Awareness Week, which runs from April 2-9.

She’s appealing to Northsiders to support organ donation by carrying a donor card, and making sure their families are aware of their wishes.

Aoife, now 29, was perfectly healthy as a child but just as she started secondary school, she became ill. She suffered from bouts of extreme tiredness and was getting in trouble as she was finding it difficult to stay awake in class.

Aoife was diagnosed with Yellow Jaundice and was expected to recover at home within a month, but her condition worsened and she was admitted to Cherry Orchard Hospital.

She was eventually referred to Crumlin Hospital where, after a series of tests, Aoife was diagnosed with Autoimmune hepatitis, a condition that can eventually to liver failure.

When she returned to school, Aoife was allowed skip classes and homework due to her condition but it wasn’t something she wanted.

“It sounds great but when you’ve just started First Year in secondary school and you’re trying to make friends and fit in, it’s really not the best way to start off,” she says. “It was hard.”

As well as missing school, Aoife was also missing out on typical teenage socialising and while her schoolmates were enjoying what are typically the best days of their lives, she was often just too tired to join in.

“I always felt that bit different. It’s hard to take in what’s wrong with you at that age. But it doesn’t really sink in how serious it is.”

Aoife’s teenage years were blighted not just by the tiredness, but by other infections caused by her weakened immune system. Mild colds would turn to flu that took weeks to recover from so she avoided crowds for fear of catching bugs.

Despite her illness, Aoife did well at school and went on to study childcare in college. She had a part time job in a pub, but frequent hospital visits and tiredness restricted her life.

In 2013 her condition began to deteriorate and Aoife ended up in an isolation unit in hospital where she faced up to the prospect of dying.

“I couldn’t even lift my head off the pillow I was so tired,” she recalls. “It was the first time I said to myself ‘you can’t be this sick’. It was a big shock.”

Aoife would need a transplant to survive and in February last year, she was put on the transplant waiting list. After an anxious eight months, living with a bag packed for hospital by her side, she finally received a liver transplant at St Vincent’s in October.

“It worked straight away, it started to make an improvement so, so fast,” says Aoife.

For reasons of confidentiality, Aoife will never know who her donor was, but she will be forever grateful for the gift of life she received.

“It’s probably the worst decision any family would ever have to make,” she says. “But they did it, and if it wasn’t for them I’d either be in hospital permanently or I mightn’t even be here at all.”

After years of not being able to even take a stroll down to the shops, Aoife is looking forward to her first summer holiday in years. But her donor will never be far from her thoughts.

“Everywhere my mam and I go, we stop in a church and light a candle. I think about my donor every day.”

Naturally, Aoife is keen to highlight the increasing demand for organ transplantation, which relies on public donations. The key message is that families need to talk about the subject and carry organ donor cards.

There’s also now a Smartphone App and motorists wanting to be donors can request for Code 115 to be included on their driver’s license.

For organ donor cards free text DONOR to 50050, call 1890-543639 or visit www.ika.ie.

Read the digital editions of the Dublin People Northside East, Northside West & Southside here