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  • Southside

How transplant op saved this dad’s life

Monday, 2nd April, 2018 8:00am

Story by Neil Fetherstonhaugh
How transplant op saved this dad’s life

Transplant recipient David Earlie, from Goatstown, with Claire Byrne, Ambassador for Organ Donor Awareness Week, at the Mansion House, Dublin.

How transplant op saved this dad’s life

Transplant recipient David Earlie, from Goatstown, with Claire Byrne, Ambassador for Organ Donor Awareness Week, at the Mansion House, Dublin.

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A SOUTHSIDE man who underwent a life-saving liver transplant last year has declared himself a very lucky man.

David Earlie, from Goatstown, told how his life was turned upside down at just 38-years-of-age.

David, who is married to Lisa Meighan and has two children, went from being a busy young man to one whose future hung in the balance just one year ago.

David, who made a presentation at the national launch of Organ Donor Awareness Week last week told how he was lucky to be alive.

“I am a very lucky man,” David said. “I have a smart, funny, beautiful wife and two amazing children. But most importantly, I am a lucky man to be standing here today because of the generosity of an organ donor and the exceptional skill of my medical team in St Vincent’s.

“Just 12 months ago, I was flying along. My son was about to turn one, my daughter was turning three and work was going great. My wife had made an exciting career move. We had just bought our home.

“But I was feeling a bit tired and had been for a couple of months. I just chalked it down to busy working parent lifestyle and I guess I was inclined to just ignore it and push on.

“However, I started to feel like I was not digesting my food properly. And I enjoy my food! After a couple of weeks of complaining my wife said I should go to the GP.”

On March 22 it was confirmed that David had a tumour and the word transplant was mentioned for the first time.

“For me at 38 and in excellent health my whole life, the idea of being very sick or needing a transplant was so remote. It’s not something we had discussed or considered.”

Upon confirmation of a rare cancer of the bile duct, David’s medical team outlined the treatment roadmap that, assuming the cancer had not progressed, would require a liver transplant.

“Fast forward a couple of gruelling months and I was live on the transplant list. 

“Then I was admitted to St Vincent’s as I had an infection.

“The infection got progressively worse, I was septic, and not responding to the antibiotics. I knew I was gravely ill by virtue of the fact that I didn’t want to leave the hospital.”

After being told that an operation would be required to drain the infection to relieve the pressure he got the got the green light that the operation was going ahead.

“I woke up the next evening in ICU and was overcome with emotion,” David recalls.

“Not just for what I had been through and what my family had been through but also for the generosity of the donor and their family.

“I was alive because someone had the conversation with their family and the family in question carried through with those wishes.

“To paraphrase Joe Schmidt - someone ordinary had done something extraordinary and in their moment of grief, had given me life.

“I would urge everyone to have the conversation with their families and loved ones to communicate their wishes.

“One of my consultants said to me a couple of months afterwards that there is a fine line between success and failure in medicine, and having that conversation can tip the odds in favour of someone like me.”

David was speaking at the launch of Organ Donor Awareness Week 2018 where it was recalled that Ireland has made huge strides since the beginning of organ transplantation back in December 1963.

The annual life-saving awareness campaign is organised by the Irish Kidney Association and supported by the ODTI (Organ Donation Transplantation Ireland), and takes place from March 31 until April 7.

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


David with Lisa, Matthew and Elizabeth.

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