THE recipient of a kidney belonging to a young Corkman who died after taking a synthetic drug at a party has contacted his family to explain how his organ donation changed their life.
Alex Ryan, aged 18 from Millstreet, died after consuming the synthetic drug, N-bomb, at a party in Cork city in January 2016.
His organs were harvested and his sister Nicole told The Echo that four people benefitted from the organ donation.
Yesterday, Nicole and her mum Irena received a card from an organ recipient, who is now living an active life after receiving one of Alex's kidneys.
Nicole said: "The lady told us how she had given up hope of ever receiving her kidney and how 14 months after receiving Alex's kidney, she did part of the Camino de Santiago.
"Her daughter told us she got married this year and her mum was able to walk her down the aisle - something she didn’t think would ever be possible.
"It’s such a bittersweet feeling.
"You are so so happy for the recipient - that you get to connect & hear how they are getting on and how life has changed for them for the better.
"And in the midst of the joy and happiness of it all the realisation that he is truly gone seeps in, punches you in the gut. You read the lovely words and you cry both tears of joy and sadness."
She said it is really nice to know Alex's life had changed the lives of others.
She said: "I feel it was a message from him again."
Nicole said the Ryan family has also heard from a man who received Alex's heart, and receive cards from him at Christmas.
She urged people to consider organ donation, as she believes that organs are no longer any good to you when you die.
"Give them if you can,” she said.
In November 2016, Judge Gerard O’Brien imposed a two-year sentence, with 18 months suspended, on one man, and imposed wholly suspended two-year sentences on another man and a woman, for their parts in the supply of the synthetic drug N-bomb.
Following an inquest into his death, Cork City coroner Philip Comyn wrote to the Department of Education calling for more drugs awareness programmes in schools.
Nicole has since set up a drug awareness programme aimed at educating young people about the dangers of drugs, called Alex's Adventure in his memory.
It aims to educate young people about the dangers of drugs.
Each year since Alex died, Nicole and her mother travel to Ballyheigue in Kerry on Christmas Day.
His ashes were spread there after his death and his mum and sister feel close to him when they visit there.