A Clonsilla mum says her husband is “living proof” of the miracle of organ donation which has allowed him to mark family milestones he feared he’d never see.
Eammon Kavanagh was diagnosed with the chronic liver disease Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis in early 2010 at the age of just 29, and the prognosis was not good.
His wife Nicola was pregnant with their second child, Jessica, following two miscarriages, and their older daughter Lauren was four at the time.
She said: “Our world was turned upside down with the shock diagnosis.”
Eammon underwent his first liver transplant in May 2011 at St Vincent’s Hospital but his recovery was difficult and he had to learn to walk again.
His progress suffered two more unrelated complications as a bowel obstruction required a second surgery, and in December 2011 he suffered a perforated appendix.
Over time his health improved and he went back to work, but in October 2017 he broke his wrist and ended up in hospital – where blood tests rang alarm bells.
A biopsy of his liver revealed that it was failing and his health rapidly deteriorated.
Eammon reached a stage where, as an in-patient at St Vincent’s, he had lost five stone in weight and was fighting to stay alive when a suitable donor was found.
Nicola recalls: “He was so close to death that it’s just an absolute miracle he is still with us today and doing amazingly well. Eammon is living proof that organ donation works.
“At the same time, we are very much aware that a family is grieving a loved one, and just hope that they may get some comfort knowing the change they have made to our lives.”
Just two months after his second transplant, Eammon was well enough to attend both his daughters’ special days, as Lauren (now 13) celebrated her Confirmation Day, and eight-year-old Jessica had her Holy Communion five weeks later.
Nicola said: “I cannot even begin to put into words how truly grateful we are. No words will ever be enough.”
Free organ donor cards are available nationwide from pharmacies, GP surgeries and post offices, from the Irish Kidney Association at 01 620 5306, or Freetext DONOR to 50050.
You can also visit www.ika.ie/card or download the free digital organ donor card to your phone.