A CORK photographer had to act fast after receiving a life-changing phone call while in the middle of a work assignment.
Denis Hyland is currently recovering from a kidney transplant which he underwent at Beaumont Hospital.
The Carrigtwohill man was photographing an election candidate when the moment he had been waiting months for arrived.
He had first fallen ill back in 1992 after a seemingly innocuous kidney infection led to a stint in intensive care.
“I was very run down from work and developed a kidney infection,” Denis said.
“The infection then progressed into renal failure which is how I ended up in intensive care. It was a miracle that the kidneys came back, even if it was only with around 20% function. Then about two years ago everything started to go pear-shaped.”
After years of healthy living and a special renal diet, the photographer was able to avoid dialysis until November of last year.
He lived in hope of a transplant but never imagined that the call would come so soon or in the middle of a work assignment.
“I was photographing Fine Gael candidate Anthony Barry for his election campaign when the call came through,” he said. “I was asked if I could be on the road to Beaumont in the next 20 minutes.”
Denis was stunned into silence, forcing him to hand the phone to his wife.
“She had to finish the conversation as I was so in shock. It was a year after I had been put on the list so I never expected that the call would come so soon. We didn’t expect the call to come through the way it did. Normally, these calls are after midnight when you’re in bed. It was very surreal for 9.37am.”
Ever the professional, Denis refused to abandon the photoshoot.
“Anthony Barry was probably more excited than I was. He’s local so knew my situation and was jumping around the place with excitement. I’ll never forget how he threw his arms around me. When he told me he was leaving I replied, ‘you’re not going anywhere until I get your portrait’.”
Mr Hyland made it to Beaumont Hospital on time but admits that he couldn’t have done it without the help of his family.
“My daughter just so happened to be getting ready to go to Killarney with her husband so she was able to take me instead.”
The family was met by a Garda escort in Portlaoise.
“They were waiting for us by the toll bridge,” he said. “The traffic was so heavy that day we would never have made it to Beaumont without them.”
Arriving at the hospital was a blur for Denis.
“It happened so fast I wasn’t even able to say goodbye to my family. There were some tests done and it was straight into theatre.”
He described the incredible feeling of waking up post surgery.
“I threw off the blankets and stood by my bed. The new lease of life I had was indescribable.”
“My son asked me if I wanted a Chinese after I came out of hospital but all I wanted was rashers and sausages,” he laughed.
“I was also able to go back swimming for the first time since my dialysis. Everybody was congratulating me. I was like a celebrity.”
Denis praised the hospital staff of Cork University Hospital and Beaumont Hospital.
“The efficiency and attention to detail in Beaumount was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. They are a super team. The same could be said for the renal department of Cork University Hospital who also took great care of me.”
He stressed the importance of carrying around an organ donor card.
“I will be grateful to my donor for the rest of my life,” he said.
To find out more about the Irish Kidney Association and how to donate visit https://ika.ie.