'There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t pray for my donor': Denis given new lease of life after getting kidney transplant

In the fifth and final part of our organ donation series, Sarah Horgan speaks with Cork transplant recipient Denis Hyland about how the selfless act of his donor's family changed his life. 
'There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t pray for my donor': Denis given new lease of life after getting kidney transplant

Denis Hyland with his family after undergoing the kidney transplant including (from left) Fiona Hanlon (Denis's daughter), Paul Hyland (son), Alex Hanlon (son-in-law), Liz Hyland (wife), Dwayne O'Sullivan (son-in-law) and Áine Rooney (daughter)

A CORK transplant recipient was filled with emotion after receiving a heartfelt letter from his deceased donor’s family.

Denis Hyland spoke of how their selfless act has changed his life.

In the letter, the family described how special their loved one was to them in a way that Denis said “reduced him to tears”

The Carrigtwohill man opened up about his gratitude two years after a kidney transplant at Beaumont Hospital.

“What they said and the beautiful way it was written would draw tears from a stone,” he said.

“I read it out to a colleague who got a live transplant a few months ago and there were tears running down her face. Every word was so moving. It’s very emotional to get something like that, it’s also really special. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t pray for my donor. I now get up in the morning and walk 5k as a way of showing gratitude for the gift that I have been given.”

Denis was photographing an election candidate when the phone call he had been waiting months for arrived.

He initially fell ill back in 1992 after a seemingly innocuous kidney infection led to renal failure and a stint in intensive care. The well-known photographer said that despite this intense setback he is now healthier than ever. Nonetheless, the letter sent by his donor’s family serves as a reminder of just how lucky he is.

“To get a handwritten letter like that meant so much. It takes a lot to put pen to paper so for them to have done that was unbelievable. The card takes pride of place on our mantlepiece and I look at it every so often.”

Denis had been photographing then Fine Gael candidate Anthony Barry when he was called for the transplant.

“He was jumping around the place and hugging me,” Denis said of Anthony’s reaction.

“I was reminding him that he still needed to get his portrait done. We got it done just before I left.”

Ever the professional, Denis finished the assignment before leaving for Beaumont Hospital.

His daughter drove him to the hospital. However, Denis stressed that he would not have arrived in time without the help of a Garda escort who met them at Portlaoise.

“When I went over to thank them and shake their hands they just said, 'get in there and get your kidney fast.'

“They didn’t want any thank you but the traffic was so chaotic that day I would never have made it to Beaumont without them.”

He acknowledged the number of lives his donor saved adding: ”This person’s second kidney was donated to someone else as were their other organs. We hope it gives their family solace to know that part of them lives on in so many other people. We pray for them every night. My wife has great faith. I think you have to have a bit of faith.”

Denis is encouraging everyone to sign up for organ donor cards so they can have the same lease of life he was granted.

To find out more or to sign up visit https://ika.ie/

More in this section

Sponsored Content


Called Droid, our next story is about a boy who designs a robot at UCC and chaos ensues. It was written by Margaret Gillies, from the MA in Creative Writing Programme at UCC.

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more