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  • Northside West

Local family grateful to donors

Monday, 25th March, 2019 8:00am
Local family grateful to donors

The Kavanagh family from Clonsilla. Lauren, Nicola, Eammon and Jessica.

Local family grateful to donors

The Kavanagh family from Clonsilla. Lauren, Nicola, Eammon and Jessica.

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A NORTHSIDE family has spoken about their gratitude for the double donor miracle that allowed them enjoy two family celebrations they feared they’d never see.

Eammon Kavanagh from Clonsilla, Dublin 15, was diagnosed with a chronic liver disease called PSC (Primary sclerosing cholangitis) four months after becoming very ill in October 2009.

Up to then Eamonn had been a healthy person who enjoyed sports, particularly playing football. He was just 29-years-old and his wife, Nicola, was pregnant with their second child, Jessica, following two previous miscarriages. Their other daughter, Lauren, was aged nearly five at the time.

“Our world was turned upside down with the shock diagnosis,” said Nicola.

A year and a half after the diagnosis in May 2011 Eammon underwent a liver transplant at St Vincent’s University Hospital.

Unfortunately his recovery didn’t run smoothly and after being discharged he was brought back in to hospital on a few occasions.

He had to learn to walk again with the help of physio sessions.  His recovery was further hampered by an unrelated operation for a bowel obstruction and then in December 2011 he suffered a perforated appendix.

Eventually Eamonn’s health improved and he resumed a normal life, going back to work in his old job.

However, a work accident in October 2017 landed him back in hospital.

He had to undergo surgery on a broken wrist and initially all seemed fine, until blood test results came back indicating that things were not right.

A biopsy revealed his liver was failing again just under seven years after his first liver transplant. His health quickly deteriorated to a point where he had to give up work again in January 2018.

He lost five stone in weight and was fighting to stay alive as an inpatient in St Vincent’s when he got the dramatic news that a suitable life-saving liver had become available.

He was rushed to the operating theatre and underwent his second transplant during the heavy snow in March last year (2018).

Just two months later Eammon was well enough to attend daughter Lauren’s Confirmation Day and five weeks after that the whole family was celebrating again at Jessica’s First Holy Communion.

They were events that Eammon’s wife, Nicola, feared the family wouldn’t be able to enjoy and she expressed their gratitude in the run up to the Irish Kidney Association’s Organ Donor Awareness campaign for 2019.

“I cannot even begin to put into words how truly grateful we are,” she said. 

“No words will ever be enough.

“This is Eammon’s second liver transplant and without the amazing ‘gift of life’ both our donor families gave us, our daughter would not have had her daddy on her special Confirmation Day.

“He was so close to death that it’s just an absolute miracle he is still with us today and doing amazingly well.

“To all the staff in St Vincent's Hospital - they truly are amazing people. Eammon is living proof that organ donation works. 

“At the same time we are very much aware that a family is grieving a loved one and we just hope that they may get some comfort knowing the change they have made to our lives.”

• Free organ donor cards are obtainable from the Irish Kidney Association and are available nationwide from pharmacies, GP surgeries and post offices. 

Cards can also be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01-6205306 or free text the word DONOR to 50050. 

You can also visit www.ika.ie/card or download the free digital organ donor card to your phone.

Less than two months after his second liver transplant Eamonn was able to attend Lauren’s Confirmation Day.

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