Dublin mum tells how every day is a gift thanks to kidney donor

by Gazette Reporter
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Yvonne Cullen from Ballinteer, D 16 knows full well the benefits of a kidney transplant. The young mother, a native of Churchtown, rejoices in every family celebration, every special occasion – and gives thanks to the stranger who saved her life.

Just after Yvonne gave birth to her son Josh (now 18) at the Coombe Maternity Hospital, the Dublin mum was referred to nephrologist Dr Catherine Wall in Tallaght University Hospital. 

Yvonne had no prior knowledge that her kidneys were failing and even when she was being monitored, she didn’t realise that her kidney function might deteriorate. It came as a shock to her when she was told that in time she would need a kidney transplant.

Yvonne told the Gazette: “As no other members of our family suffered from kidney disease, it was suspected that mine might have stemmed from an infection which I picked up as a child or at birth when I caught pneumonia.  I had several kidney infections as a child but these were not attributed to anything in particular and I was prescribed antibiotics to fight them off.”

Yvonne knows how lucky she was to be in the safe hands of Dr Wall at that time.

“For several years through medication and lifestyle changes, I got to stay away from dialysis. I changed jobs and decided to be a stay at home mam looking after Josh and childminding other people’s children. But I found in later years as my kidney disease progressed, that I was feeling very tired.”

It still came as a blow to Yvonne, when in late 2015, Dr Wall told her that dialysis was now required and it was time for Yvonne to go on the transplant waiting list for a donor kidney.

“In June 2016, I began a form of home dialysis, which involved undergoing treatment four times a day. Then I transferred over to nightly dialysis, I was hooked up to a machine which filtered toxins out of my blood for 10 hours each night.”

By this time, Yvonne was “skin and bone, a size 6, and exhausted all the time.”

As a single mum, she feared for the future as Josh was only 11 or 12 at the time.

Yvonne Cullen from Balinteer, a kidney transplant enjoying her holiday in Palma, Majorca

“The Irish Kidney Association was very good to me, offering advice and support and were a shoulder to lean on. I was facing years of waiting for a kidney transplant. My brother, my two sisters and my friends Aishling and Michelle were a rock of support throughout my health journey.”

“But to this day,  I feel absolutely blessed to have been called to Beaumont Hospital for a kidney transplant in December from a stranger which changed my life.  Although my recovery took a few weeks, I was home in time for Christmas eve 2016 much to the joy of my son Josh and our family.”

For Yvonne, the debt is infinite, every day is a gift, every occasion, every joy, family celebration, every memory created with Josh.

“I am so grateful and have written to the family of my organ donor anonymously through the organ donor co-ordinator at Beaumont hospital to thank them. All the medical and nursing staff who cared for me from the time I gave birth at the Coombe, to Tallaght Hospital and then Beaumont for my transplant – they’ve all been wonderful.

“My family has been amazing including my father Billy who looked after Josh so well when we lived with him in Churchtown and kept a close eye on us both after we moved to Balinteer.

“My life has been completely transformed and I’m making the most of it. I have put back on weight and recently gone back to work in catering. I’ve taken part in a few Women’s mini marathons and raised funds for the Irish kidney Association.

“Better still, I’ve just returned from a family holidays in Palma Majorca, my first time abroad for 17 years. My health is my wealth and I have my donor to thank for it,” concluded Yvonne, now in her mid 40’s.

Sign up now to carry your donor card. Simply text Donor to 50050 or go to www.ika.ie, or phone 01 620 5306. Remember, you could save a life, or have the life of someone you know transformed with the gift of a kidney transplant. What are you waiting for?

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