By Dan Danaher
RETIRED Dublin All-Star footballer, David Hickey has the distinction of transplanting new kidneys for two Ennistymon brothers, 10 years apart.
Dr Hickey, who is the current director of transplantation in Ireland, performed the surgery to provide Stefan Davis (23) from Ennistymon with a new kidney on November 13 last.
He carried out the same operation for his brother, Gary (27), who works in Liscannor as a kitchen porter, 10 years ago in 2004. Meanwhile, their mother, Mary is on haemodialysis for ten years. Stefan was on dialysis for two and a half years and was on the kidney pool a year before he went on dialysis.
Mary explains for the first time in 23 years he is not in and out of hospitals.
“He is only back to work three weeks but the difference in him is amazing. Stefan was a premature baby and from the day he was born until now he was a regular visitor to hospital. However, this has now been reduced dramatically to once every three weeks and will fall further to once every three months in the near future,” she outlines.
Stefan attends the Brothers of Charity five days a week, learning skills such as cooking and carpentry. He will be participating as a striker in the five-a-side soccer in the Special Olympics in June.
Gary was on dialysis for just over a year before he got his kidney. This included six months on home dialysis four times a day and six months in hospital three times a week.
“It is a new lease of life for me. Having dialysis is very time consuming. I am now a free man.
I am very grateful and really appreciate being a kidney recipient. Whoever carried my kidney, I owe it all to them.
“I would have nothing only for that person’s generousity. There is no stopping me at the moment. A kidney can reject after 10 years or be at risk of rejecting after this period.
Mary attends the haemodialysis unit at University Hospital, Limerick three times a week, completing the shift from midnight to five.
Now that her family is reared, she feels she has plenty of time to get on with her household chores but sometimes needs to stay in bed for a rest after dialysis when she is feeling tired.
Mary praised the Clare branch of the Irish Kidney Association for providing tremendous support to the three of them.
“It is part of my life. I just get on with it.
“When my lads were diagnosed at the age of six and 12, I knew nothing about dialysis. I thought oh Jesus they are going to die.
“Peggy Eustace contacted me to come to the branch meetings and it was unbelieveable the informatoin I learned. I still attend meetings on a regular basis and every time I come I learn something new,” she adds.
As a branch member, she had made great friends meeting recipients, kidney patients and carers.
“I have made great friends. When you get a condition like this, you can feel very isolated. People might know you are a dialysis patient, but they have no idea what this entails whatsoever. You have to experience it to fully appreciate it.”