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HomeFarming NewsLiver transplant ‘the gift of new life’ for UCD ag student
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Liver transplant ‘the gift of new life’ for UCD ag student

Receiving a liver transplant in October 2018 was life-changing for Carrigtwohill, County Cork native, Edel Cashman.

The UCD animal and crop production student was diagnosed with an auto-immune liver disease when she was just 9-years-old. As a result, taking medication throughout her life became normality when she was growing up.

She explained that there were “ups and downs, hospital stays, blood tests, but it was just normal for me”.

However, life took a turn when she had just begun the second year of her third-level agricultural science studies.

Liver transplant 

“I started college, but when I just started second year, I got really sick, almost overnight.”

“I just got a really bad pain in my abdomen and came to CUH. I spent about a week in ICU there and was transferred to St Vincent’s in Dublin and spent another week in ICU there.”

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“It was during that time she was assessed for the transplant list. That was the scariest time of my life.”

“I did not know what was going on. I went from being a healthy college student, just having fun, to sitting in a hospital room and barely able to walk.”

“I was so sick and could barely recognise myself; it was hard to process.”

On November 12th, 2016, she was placed on a liver transplant waiting list and waited for a liver for 22 months.

Those 22 months were really difficult, not only physically but mentally. “I should have been enjoying college and not worrying about when I was going to get a liver, when this call was going to come.”

Life now

In October 2018, she got the call for her transplant, which “went really well”, and she has not looked back ever since.

“I have just been so well. Even talking about it, I have to remind myself what I went through because I am living a normal life now.”

“I do not think about it all the time, and I never thought I would see that day. It is literally a new life.”

“People say it’s the gift of life, but it’s kind of almost become a cliché, but it literally is the gift of new life.”

She said it is important for people to talk about organ donation. It is not something she would have given two thoughts to before it became her life.

“People need to talk to their families. They need to have that conversation. It does not need to tell them that if anything was ever to happen, that they want to donate their organs.”

“It means almost nothing to them, but it means life to someone else and someone like me. Therefore, it is just so important to have that conversation,” she concluded.

European Day for Organ Donation and Transplantation

Today (Saturday, October 9th) is European Day for Organ Donation and Transplantation (EODD).

The special day is dedicated to promoting organ donation awareness and honouring all organ donors and their families.

It is also an opportunity to thank transplantation professionals throughout Europe whose hard work helps save lives and improve the quality of life of many people.

Donate your organs 

Dr Catherine Motherway, Intensive Care Consultant in University Hospital Limerick and HSE Clinical Lead for Organ Donation, said:

“If you would like your organs to be donated in the event of your death, please let your family know your wishes.”

“Talk to them, carry a donor card. It is so important for them to know what you would have wanted.”

“Making decisions at a time of great grief and in the face of a sudden loss is incredibly hard. Knowing what you would want will help them.”

“The act of donation can truly help families in their loss, and is a most precious gift for our transplant patients. Transplantation saves and changes lives.”

She thanked thousands of donors and their families that have given the gift of life to many more thousands of very sick people over the years in Ireland.

Last year in Ireland, 190 organ transplants were carried out:

  • 123 kidney transplants were performed at the National Renal Transplant Service at Beaumont Hospital, 28 of which living donor transplants;
  • 37 liver transplants happened at the National Liver Transplant Service at St Vincent’s University Hospital;
  • 16 lung transplants and 9 heart transplants took place in the National Heart Lung Transplant Service at the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital.

Currently, there are 650 families in Ireland waiting for transplant surgery. Last year 35,529 organ transplants were performed in Europe, while 43,183 new patients joined the existing waiting lists.

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