Strange Boat - Organ Donation Awareness

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Tony's story

Kyle Omar Gavigan was born to Adrienne and myself on 8th of April 1983, he is our first born. He passed on to the next life at the end of January 1996. Kyle was involved in a car accident and was taken to the hospital in Navan and later transferred to Beaumont hospital in Dublin on a cold Tuesday night. He was placed on a life support machine...

Adrienne and I spent the four days by Kyle’s bedside for the duration of his time in the hospital. As time passed the awful realisation that Kyle our wonderful boy, was critically ill and would not survive.  He had massive injury to his brain and was not going to recover. 

We were treated with the utmost courtesy and respect by the nursing staff in the ward. The phrase brain dead was mentioned on a few occasions and tests to check the activity of the brain by independent specialists would be carried out. Both Adrienne and I, with the passing of time, realised that Kyle had passed onto the next level of his spiritual travels. It was then that we decided that we wanted to have his organs used for transplantation purposes. 

Enter Phyllis Cunningham....Transplant Co-ordinator for Beaumont hospital. Phyllis and her colleagues do a wonderful job, with the utmost care and sympathy, in dealing with us, the bereaved parents. It is such a horrendous time for us, and they are tasked with the job of asking us to donate our child’s organs. It was not too difficult a decision for us. We had spoken of it years earlier in relation to ourselves. Little did we think that it would be for our child we would have to make that decision. But I have to admit we needed a bit of persuading to donate his cornea. When Phyllis explained the situation to us we were sold on the idea.  

On the day Kyle was born it snowed and, again on that fateful day as we brought him down to theatre assisted by the retrieval team, the snow fell again accompanied by a loud growl of thunder. The team took Kyle’s kidneys and cornea and these were used for transplanting in four people. You would not know that his organs had been removed.

As the days and weeks passed after Kyle’s passing I became different. I was very tired and lethargic and of course I thought it was all part of the grieving process. I eventually went to the doctor and was admitted to the Mater hospital where very soon it was established that I had a kidney problem. 

Yes kidney. How ironic, but that was only the beginning. The prognosis was that maybe some day I may need a kidney transplant and was sent home from hospital, on our first Christmas without Kyle, shell-shocked. I returned six months later only to be told that my kidney was failing rapidly. That was June of 1997. By Christmas I was ready for dialysis. I opted for dialysis at home, which went smoothly and I continued to work. On an early October morning I was about to bring my daughter Kasha to school I got a call from Beaumont "We have a kidney for you". Of course, for most people this is manna from heaven to get that call.  I knew different. Some poor unfortunate family had just lost a loved one, and had to make the decision to donate. 

I dropped Kasha to school and drove myself to the hospital. Oh: How I cried for that grieving family and to this day I will not forget their generosity. I was scrubbed up and taken to theatre for my new kidney.  Was it the same theatre in which my son Kyle had donated his????? I never asked. 

I have had a full recovery and represented Ireland at the world transplant games in Thailand in 2007, taking part in the petanque ten-pin bowling and golf competitions.

For those of you who read this, it will happen to you or someone close to you - be it donation or transplantation. Talk about it. Get a donor card. Only for people carrying donor cards, many people who are now leading full and healthy lives would be dead. It’s as simple as that.   

REMEMBER LIFE IS PRECIOUS SHARE IT.

Tony Gavigan

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