Cork doctor receives colleague's kidney in living donor transplant

Cork doctor receives colleague's kidney in living donor transplant
Dr. Ruth Smith and Dr Noel Howard. Photo:Andrew Downes

TWO doctors who work together in a busy medical practice took their Hippocratic Oath to the extreme when one donated a kidney to the other last year.

Mother of three, Dr Ruth Smith, aged 46, originally from Douglas and Dr Noel Howard , aged 39, a Galway native and father of three, underwent their living donor kidney transplant at Beaumont Hospital in September 2016. 

They are sharing their story in support of Organ Donor Awareness Week 2017, which starts tomorrow.

Working together for close to a decade at their Salthill Practice Galway, personal lives also had come to overlap more and more. 

Socialising with their spouses and having three young children each they regularly found themselves sharing common interests.

Dr Ruth Smith said, “When I was in my mid-twenties I was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease and I knew that it was probable that dialysis treatment was coming down the tracks. I took control of my condition and managed to stave off dialysis until the beginning of last year when my kidney function had deteriorated to a point where it needed intervention."

Ruth explained, “Within weeks of me telling Noel that I would be going on dialysis and need a kidney transplant, Noel and his wife Róisín had reached a decision together and told me that Noel would go forward to be screened for living donation. 

"Obviously, this came as a huge surprise to me and myself and my husband Alan were completely overwhelmed by their profound act of kindness. Once I was listed on the kidney transplant waiting pool Noel quickly began the screening process for living donation. My husband Alan also went forward but wasn't a compatible donor. However, Noel was deemed to be compatible after rigorous testing including blood and tissue typing as well as psychological assessment. 

"The transplant went ahead at Beaumont Hospital last September. I can honestly say that I didn’t realise how unwell I had been feeling up until the transplant as I had just been plodding along. I feel so much better now. My family and I have so much to be thankful for and it’s thanks to Noel that I am at this point where I can look forward to the future with my family and continue to enjoy working as a doctor, a job I love to do.”

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