Rugby player passes a kidney to save a life

by Emma Nolan

TWO former Swords Rugby Club players underwent a life-changing procedure this week in Beaumont Hospital as one player donated his kidney to save another’s life.
Derek Brennan volunteered his kidney to his team mate, Robert “Mossy” Merrigan, after he had lost hope of receiving a donor kidney when his brother wasn’t a match for a transplant.
Vice-captain of the team, Gary McCormick, spoke to The Gazette about how proud he and the rest of the team are.
Speaking about Brennan, McCormick says that he is a very influential member of the team who, once he puts his mind to something, always follows through. “That’s the kind of person Derek is – when he makes up his mind about something, he goes for it.”
Merrigan played with Swords Rugby club for a number of years before he became unwell and couldn’t play any more, which was a massive loss to the club, but he still supported the team and watched the matches when he could.
When he was diagnosed with kidney failure and put on dialysis for a few years, Brennan, who just retired from the club last year, decided that he couldn’t stand Merrigan not being his usual self so he decided to get tested to see if he was a match for the kidney transplant.
“When it turned out he was, Mossy basically didn’t have a choice – he was getting the kidney,” said McCormick.
Brennan and Merrigan became friends through the club, which McCormick says is “like a family”, adding: “It’s a close-knit club; when you join you become a brother and you would do anything for your family, like Derek did for Mossy.”
The doctors in Beaumont are really happy with how the transplant went and Brennan has now been discharged from hospital, while Merrigan is hoping to go home by the end of the week.
“They’ve named the kidney, ‘Declan the Kidney’, after the old Irish rugby coach,” said McCormick.
The Swords team joked about the nicknamed kidney on their Facebook page with a breaking news story with the headline: ‘Declan the Kidney has now transferred from Leinster to Munster’.
McCormack says that he and the team and their families couldn’t be more proud of the pair. He said: “Derek has always been like the hero of the club, someone we all look up to, but he really is a hero now – everyone can’t sing his praises enough after this.
“As they say in rugby, you put your body on the line, and Derek really has put his body on the line for his teammate and friend.”

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