A YOUNG Cork woman waiting for a kidney transplant remains in limbo after her operation was suspended until further notice during the pandemic.
Montenotte woman Sally Nagle was scheduled to undergo a kidney transplant in Beaumont hospital last month after her aunt stepped in as a donor.
“Anyone who has had a transplant will know how transformative it is. It’s 11 years of not being hooked to a machine,” Sally said.
“Transplants are starting to happen again but without donors we wouldn’t have those transplants. As things get back to normal hospitals will open up for surgeries again but it’s difficult to know just how big the backlog will be.”
This would have been Sally’s second transplant since 2008 following a diagnosis of kidney failure at 14. The condition came about as a result of a rare bone disorder which she suffers from, Ideopathic Multicentric Osteolysis, which is characterised by a loss of bone tissue.
Her previous transplant came from a deceased donor and Sally is passionate to see others get the same chance at life that she did.
“Nobody wants to think of a time when they’ll be gone,” she acknowledged.
“It’s not a nice conversation but a one that needs to be had while many of us are at home with our families.”
Sally spoke of her disappointment at having her own transplant suspended.
“Part of you knows this is going to happen,” she said.
“However, we could be four months down the line and still not be told of a possible date.
“Fingers crossed that in the meantime we both stay well. With a live donor there is a much higher risk because there are two people involved, but we’ll know a lot more in the next month.
“We are both being as careful as possible.”
Despite being confined to home, Sally — who is chairperson for the Cork Branch of the Irish Kidney Association — is continuing her work of raising awareness of organ donor awareness.
While Sally’s transplant will involve a live donor, she is urging as many people to carry organ donor cards as possible to ensure that transplant patients don’t get left behind during the pandemic.
She spoke of the concern among transplant patients during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This is a huge worry for people on the waiting lists for transplants because while the numbers are going down none of us know if there is going to be a second wave,” she said. “There is no roadmap for people with underlying conditions.
“We will always be one step behind.”
Sally spoke of the upcoming challenges for transplant patients in relation to the virus.
“If a vaccine is live we won’t be able to get it because we might not be able to fight it. This is something that has affected the world and I don’t think it will ever be fully gone.”
The Cork advocate praised donors everywhere for transforming lives, including her aunt.
“Being a match is such a big thing,” she said. “It’s hard to know how to thank a person for something like that.
“I never asked anyone to do this for me. That’s not something I would ever do, so it was a huge thing for her to offer.”
She described their journey together before the pandemic.
“Finding out if you are a match is a long process (10 months) much of which involved travelling to Dublin and number of appointments. It wasn’t until doctors gave us the last word that I was able to take in that my aunt was a match.”
Sally elaborated on their close bond.
“We had a strong relationship even before there was any talk of a transplant. Since the pandemic we have kept in touch through video chats. However, we haven’t seen each other in person since this all began. When we’re together we could talk for hours about anything. Where organ donation is concerned this is vital as you have to be open and honest about what you are going through and I can be like that with my aunt.”
She described the anti-social aspect of the pandemic as difficult.
“I haven’t been to shop since March,” she said. “Anything I need I have to ask my parents for so it will mean a lot to have my independence back.”
Sally said her only trips out are for hospital dialysis, where the atmosphere is more fraught than usual despite the best efforts of the medics.
“It’s definitely more tense but doctors and nurses are trying to make it feel as normal and as comfortable for patients as possible,” she said.
To find out more about organ donation or apply for an organ donation card visit ika.ie.