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  • Southside

The Gift of Life

Monday, 14th October, 2019 8:00am
The Gift of Life

Michelle O’Riordan, whose son Jack (3) will require a liver and kidney transplant, is pictured at the Service of Remembrance & Thanksgiving in Corpus Christi Church.

The Gift of Life

Michelle O’Riordan, whose son Jack (3) will require a liver and kidney transplant, is pictured at the Service of Remembrance & Thanksgiving in Corpus Christi Church.

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THERE was a huge turnout at the Irish Kidney Association’s Service of Remembrance & Thanksgiving to commemorate organ donors last week.

This 34th annual event was attended by a congregation of close to 2,000, who gathered in Corpus Christi Church, Homefarm Road, on Saturday, October 5, to honour organ donors and their families.

Taking part in the ecumenical service were courageous families of deceased organ donors and living donors and grateful transplant recipients of heart, lungs, liver, kidney, pancreas and bone marrow.

Also attending the service were members of the wider organ donation and transplant community, including donor and transplant coordinators and medical, surgical and nursing staff. 

Among those taking part was Michelle O’Riordan, whose 3-year-old son, Jack, has been a patient at Temple Street Hospital since he was one-week-old.

Jack, who has a rare rare genetic condition, brought his favourite toy, a ukulele, to the altar, accompanied by mum Michelle, who is a nurse at Tallaght Hospital.

Although not on the transplant waiting list yet, Jack will require a combined kidney and liver transplant operation in Birmingham in the UK.

Michelle and her husband Anthony are originally from the Southside (Dun Laoghaire and Dundrum respectively) and now live in Longwood, Co Meath with Jack and his younger brother, Miles.

Speaking before last month’s IKA Gift of Life Charity Ball, Michelle said: “We had never heard of Jack's condition (ARPKD) before he was diagnosed after birth and nor did we know anyone who had a transplant or needed one despite my work as a nurse. It was a huge shock to us.

“He spent almost all of his first year in hospital in a bid to stabilise his high blood pressure, which when it peaks, affects his heart and poses a threat of stroke and heart attack.

“His enlarged kidneys which are covered in cysts make it more difficult to control his blood pressure.

“Jack has to take several blood pressure medications daily to combat this. His disease progression is unpredictable and his condition can become critical very quickly”

Michelle added: “Jack is a patient at both Crumlin and Temple Street hospitals where he is under the wonderful expert care of cardiology, renal and liver staff who try to keep his condition under control and get him to the point where he will be able to go on the transplant waiting list." 

Brian and Patricia Tinsley, from Newbridge, the parents of campaigner Orla Tinsley, whose RTÉ documentary ‘Orla Tinsley - Warrior’ led to a surge of over 7,000 requests for donor cards after it was aired in September 2018, also attended the service.

The Annual Service, which is now in its 34th year, also marks the anniversary of the production of the ‘Book of Remembrance’.

This Roll of Honour has been an integral part of the service since its inception with the names of organ and tissue donors inscribed by calligrapher Annette Daly, from Glenageary.

Each member of the congregation was invited to carry a lit candle to the altar, to the accompanying music of the Pro Nuova Music Group Choir which has performed at the annual service since 2016.

Members of Transplant Team Ireland, who participated in the World Transplant Games and the British Transplant Games this summer, also took part in the emotive Service of Light.

This year’s ecumenical service was led by several senior clergy, including the Rector of St Paul's Glenageary, Reverend William Black.

The concept for the service evolved from a grieving organ donor mother who contacted the association explaining her distress and sadness that her son’s organ donation had never been acknowledged.

At the time there was no system in place at the Old Jervis Street Hospital to acknowledge and thank organ donors and their families.

In consultation with the then newly appointed National Transplant Co-ordinator, Phyllis Cunningham, it was decided that a service would be held to publicly acknowledge and recognise the courageous generosity of organ donors and their families.

The inaugural service, in 1986, had an attendance of 300 people in St Mary’s, Haddington Road, Ballsbridge which is the association’s current Parish Church. Since then, the numbers have increased annually with an attendance close to 2,000 people now attending from all over Ireland. 

Pictured at the Irish Kidney Association’s Annual Service of Remembrance & Thanksgiving are twins Lauren and Olivia Mahon (8) whose grandmother was a donor, and their mum Jennifer, from Ranelagh. Photo: Arthur Carron

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