A JUNIOR DOCTOR from Dublin has told how receiving a kidney transplant three years ago changed her life.
Juliette Duff, 26, from Monkstown underwent the life saving surgery at Beaumont Hospital four years ago and said she thanks her donor every single day.
She said: “It wasn’t the first time an organ donor gave me the gift of life.
“Before I was born my Dad received a lifesaving kidney transplant, and again when I was seven.
“For the third time, my family was given the gift of life.
“I think of my donor and their family every day.”
Juliette witnessed her late Dad go through dialysis and his second transplant at the tender age of seven.
She said: “He was a massive inspiration and an example of perseverance, and he would be so embarrassed of me saying that!”
Juliette started to feel unwell during her time at UCD and by the time she started her medical training she was on dialysis.
Family members were tested to see if they might be suitable donors but none were a match.
She said: “I began to get sicker. My legs were so swollen and my whole body felt restless and uncomfortable all the time.
“I struggled a lot with anaemia, I often felt faint and couldn’t stand for very long. It made college very difficult.
“I was 22 and didn’t want to miss out… It felt like something needed to give but I didn’t want to give up my dream career.
“I struggled with just a flight of stairs. That’s when I got the phone call.”
That fateful call took her to Beaumont for a transplant and she hasn’t looked back since.
She said: “I cannot put into words what the gift of life means to me and my family but I will try my best.
“It took so much worry off my parents’ shoulders and meant my brother got his big sister back.
“I got to graduate last May, I could go on holidays, I could return to my swimming which is my favourite hobby.
For two and a half years when I couldn’t sleep on dialysis or when it all felt too much, I imagined my first length of the swimming pool after the transplant.
“When I got the call it felt like the whole world had been handed to me.”
Juliette is sharing her story to highlight Organ Donor Awareness Week from March 27 to April 3.
The Irish Kidney Association is encouraging families to discuss organ donation – and to carry a donor card.
Juliette said: “Somewhere in Ireland, in a moment of immense pain and sadness, a family decided to help us without even knowing us.
“Having lost my own wonderful Dad last September, I am amazed that despite their pain they took a moment to ease mine.
“I wish I could give them a hug and tell them that I will never forget what they have done for me.”