A TEACHER who had to cocoon due to health issues said she was overjoyed to receive the Covid-19 vaccination on the 18th anniversary of her kidney transplant.
Deirdre Lynch, who teaches German and Irish at Scoil Mhuire Gan Smal Secondary School in Blarney extended her gratitude to the Irish Kidney Association who she said fought to have transplant recipients vaccinated as soon as possible.
Ms Lynch, along with others in the same medically vulnerable category, were initially placed at number seven on the government's vaccine priority list.
The situation had sparked outrage as up to 5,000 people in Ireland on dialysis or post-transplant treatments saw little hope in sight.
The Irish Kidney Association appealed for changes to the list in a letter to Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly.
Vaccinations were subsequently brought forward for transplant recipients.
From March of last year, Deirdre had to spend a number of months completely locked away from the world. She spoke about how her cousin had to deliver groceries and food to her home for what they affectionately referred to as "operation ocras."
Ms Lynch, who lives in Glanmire, has been unable to return home to see her parents since Christmas. However, she said that this vaccination has provided her with some light at the end of the tunnel. Deirdre added that it couldn't have come at a better time-exactly 18 years to the day she received a life-changing kidney transplant.
Now 46, the teacher and career guidance counsellor experienced renal failure in her early twenties and began dialysis shortly before her 27th birthday and underwent a transplant in March 2003.
"This time last year I was terrified," Deirdre confessed. "It's great to see light at the end of the tunnel. We are finally moving. I can't wait to hug people and get on a plane when we're finally able to again."
She compared her life now to her experience while on dialysis.
"You could never be spontaneous, even for something as simple as travelling to Dublin for a shopping trip," she said.
Even now I'd be very slow to make a five-year-plan. I'm so used to living my life day to day, week by week, month by month and check-up by check-up.
"The first thing I did after the transplant was eat chocolate, bananas and muesli because those were all the things you weren't able to eat while on dialysis. I took nothing for granted. I flung myself into life and said yes to everything. I travelled the world and did as much I could. I often think of all the friends that have been in life since 2003 that I would never have met if I hadn't had the transplant. I'm eternally grateful for all of them."
18 years on, Deirdre was delighted to receive another important call.
When I got the call to say I was getting the vaccination I felt a wobble in my throat. It was like when I received the call to say I was getting the transplant but on a much smaller scale. After receiving the call for my transplant I was running around the house screaming with joy.
"It wasn't quite as dramatic this time around but knowing that I was finally going to get the vaccination gave me a lot of hope."
She added that both her colleagues and students have been very supportive.
"The students, particularly the seniors have been so understanding and respectful of my situation."
Deirdre spoke of the constant admiration she feels for her donor's family.
"I admire that even in their darkest moment they were able to help someone else. There is a lot of guilt that comes with having a kidney transplant because you are off having a great life whereas the other person has passed away. All you can do is be eternally grateful."
Deirdre is encouraging the public to sign up as organ donors so that others can receive the gift of life too.
To sign up visit https://ika.ie/