CORK woman Lynda O’Mahony is looking forward to celebrating her daughter’s confirmation this week.
She will also be there to witness her eldest daughter turn 21 later this year.
Mitchelstown native Lynda admits that she would not be here to witness or celebrate any of these things without organ donation.
In December 2016, Lynda, who suffers from an auto-immune disease called Primary Biliary Cirrhosis, underwent liver transplant surgery.
Prior to that, she had suffered three bouts of liver failure, was confined to a wheelchair and became incontinent.
Suffering from a terrible itch due to the condition, she had to resort to using cheese graters and tin foil to scrape her skin, leaving it torn and bleeding.
Edging closer to death, Lynda got a call on December 9 that a liver was available.
She was rushed to St Vincent’s hospital in Dublin for the operation and awoke the next day to a new lease of life.
“I still have the illness that caused me to have the transplant but saying that I’m doing very, very well,” she told The Echo, ahead of Organ Donor Awareness Week.
Now living in Blackrock, Lynda said that life on the transplant list was one of the hardest experiences she has had to endure.
“It’s very tough, very hard.
“It’s also a bittersweet kind of thing because while you’re getting an organ to save your life, you know that someone had to die for that to happen,” she added.
“It’s a really, really hard thing to go through.
“The experience taught me that it can hit anyone of any race, gender, age at any time.
“You never think it’ll happen to you, but it can happen to you.
“I never thought that I’d be in a situation where my life was dependent on someone else giving me an organ.”
Before her illness struck with such devastating effects, Lynda was an active person, always cycling or at the gym.
She said that it is easy when things are going well to take things for granted.
“I took life for granted too,” she admitted.
“I was a workaholic, a cycle-aholic, a gym-aholic and I never stopped before I got ill.
“But now I’ve learned to slow down and appreciate everything in life,” she added.
“Earlier today, I was down in the park walking my two dogs and it’s the simple things like that that are amazing.
“When you’re lying in a hospital bed critically or chronically ill, that’s the type of thing you crave.
“I looked like a woman that was 80 years old or older, dishevelled and dying.
“But now I’m back flying around the place like a mad woman,” she laughed.
“I remember one winter I was in hospital for around six or eight weeks and it was lashing rain the whole time.
“People were coming in all the time and they were giving out about the rain, saying it was terrible and all that. I was lying in the bed, looking out the window thinking what I wouldn’t give to be out there, feeling that rain on my skin.
“There are things that we all moan about on a daily basis, things that we take for granted so much. When those things are taken away, they’re the things we wish for.”
Now Lynda is back out and about, busy again and looking forward to travelling and celebrating milestones.
Her daughter will celebrate her confirmation this Friday, the day before Lynda and her eldest fly out to Edinburgh for a conference on PBC.
“It’s great to be busy,” said Lynda. “These are all things that I wouldn’t be here to celebrate and do if it wasn’t for my donor.
“My oldest daughter is turning 21 this year, another huge milestone that I would have missed,” she added. I’m celebrating my youngest girl’s confirmation this month as well. To be here for them and to be part of that is just amazing.
“These are celebrations and milestones in their lives that I wouldn’t be here to witness and be a part of if it wasn’t for my donor. All these things are just amazing milestones that wouldn’t have happened for me without organ donation.”
Lynda encouraged everyone who has been through organ donation and anyone who wishes to become an organ donor to speak about it, saying the importance of these conversations cannot be overstated.
Mallow native Mick O’Shea underwent a successful heart transplant in August, 2017.
Last year, he celebrated his 40th birthday, a milestone he never thought possible.
“I read the story in the Echo about Mick O’Shea in Mallow who had a heart transplant and that had such an impact on me,” said Lynda.
“The more people that tell their story, the more people it will impact and show just how important organ donation is.
“It’s so important to have these conversations and tell people if you want to donate because if you don’t have that chat with your loved ones and you don’t express your wish to donate organs, that’s an opportunity to save someone’s life, to do something absolutely amazing for someone, that could be lost.
“I was very lucky that my donor had always expressed her desire to be a donor.
“You are giving someone the ultimate gift; the gift of life.
“I wouldn’t be here today talking to you, I wouldn’t be here for my daughters or my family without organ donation.”