A CORK woman revealed that her 11-year-old daughter still prays for the man who saved her life with a liver and double kidney donation.
Kim Murphy from Commons Rd explained how her little girl Lexi was born with polycystic kidney disease, a condition that led her to require a double kidney and liver transplant at the age of six.
For the first four years of her life, Lexi was relatively well. However, in the summer of 2014, her condition began to deteriorate. Lexi was placed on the transplant list but found herself too sick to travel for surgery on 13 occasions.
Lexi’s dad Declan underwent testing to see if he could donate a segment of his liver. However, in 2016, six days before the operation was scheduled, a donor came through and Lexi received two kidneys and a liver in one operation.
Despite her youth, Lexi understood the gravity of this act of kindness from her donor’s family. After her family received a call to say the organs had become available, the first thing she did was say a prayer for the donor.
She still spends her bedtimes praying for him out of gratitude for the gift she has been given.
“Every night she and her dad say a prayer,” Kim said. “They say an extra prayer for the donor. She has never forgotten him.”
Kim said they spare a thought for the donor every day.
Reflecting on the bittersweet day her daughter was called for a transplant, she said: “With procedures like heart and lung transplants, the organs have to come from another child. Lexi’s donor was 22. It made it slightly easier that we weren’t waiting on another child to die — as hard as it is to think of anybody dying to save your child. When you get that phone call saying there is a donor you are asking: ‘How can we be happy and excited thinking about the family on the other side?’
“We don’t know much about the donor besides that he was 22 and died in an accident. What we do know is that he saved nine people’s lives. Lexi keeps him in her mind. When we woke her up to tell her that a donor had come through, the first thing she did was say a prayer for him. She has never forgotten him or what he has done for her.”
Lexi’s parents always tried to be as honest as possible with her.
“The best advice we got was to give her as much of the truth as we could,” said Kim. “We had to explain to Lexi that this person was going to die anyway and we couldn’t prevent that. He had made this decision to donate. We didn’t wish for it or want this terrible thing to happen. However, when awful things happen people want something good to come of it.”
Kim admits that they are often faced with difficult questions.
“We were in the car one day when Lexi asked me if her donor had a baby. I told her that I didn’t know. He was 22 so, in my mind, I was thinking that this was a possibility. She said she hoped that he didn’t because that would make her sadder. That broke my heart.
“Lexi is always going to have questions. A lot of them we will never be able to answer but we try to keep her as informed as possible.”
The family is encouraging everyone to sign up for organ donor cards so other children like Lexi can have a second chance at life.
“We wrote them a thank you letter.
“However, thanks is such a small word for what Lexi has been given. If we got the opportunity to meet them, words wouldn’t get it across. I’d rather they could see Lexi. It would be nice for them to see how a part of him still lives on.
“I’d want them to know that Lexi lives every day to the fullest because she understands the magnitude of the chance that she has been given. I’d like to instill that in her always because she has been given this second chance.”
"Lexi doesn’t shy away from talking about her transplant and is proud of what she has been through,” said Kim.
“She has scars on her tummy. When people ask her about them at ballet or gymnastics she doesn’t try and hide them. She’ll just say: ‘That’s from my transplant.’
“It’s something she enjoys talking about. She has become like the spokesperson for Crumlin in her school from being in hospital so much.”
Find out more about organ donation or sign up for an organ donor card at ika.ie.