Organ donation: ‘She’s like a different child. Sofia has her childhood back’

Irish Kidney Association launches organ donor awareness week

Up until nearly 1½ years ago, Sofia Corey (8) had to undergo dialysis seven nights a week. Since her kidney transplant in December 2020, she finally has her childhood back.

“She was quite sick a lot, she had fluid restrictions, she was really tired,” her grandmother Joan McElroy said. “Since transplant, it’s so different. She’s like a different child. She’s full of energy, she’s eating more, we can do things that we never could previously. We can take her to places, because we could never go away when she was on dialysis.”

Sofia was born prematurely and at seven weeks old was diagnosed with a condition called congenital nephrotic syndrome. Aged six months, she had one kidney removed. When she was two, her parents were trained to give her nightly dialysis treatment which she underwent at home for 12 hours at a time.

This continued for more than four years, until she was called for her kidney transplant.


“Donation is so life-changing for a child, for everybody,” said her grandmother. “Sofia has her childhood back. Why wouldn’t you do it?”

Ms McElroy was speaking in advance of the launch of organ donor awareness week, which is organised by the Irish Kidney Association (IKA) in association with Organ Donation Transplant Ireland (ODTI).

The key message of the campaign week, which runs from April 23rd until April 30th, is to “Share Your Wishes” as organ donation saves and transforms lives.

Dr Catherine Motherway, ODTI's clinical lead and a consultant in intensive care, encouraged members of the public to speak about the issue with their loved ones.

‘Great sorrow’

“To our deceased donors and their families, in the midst of great sorrow, you find it in yourselves to think of others: thank you,” she said. “The generosity of organ donors is the bedrock of our transplant programmes. Organ donation saves and transforms the lives of our transplant recipients.”

In 2020, there were 190 transplants, followed by 206 last year. This figure was significantly lower than the five-year average prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, which was 283 transplants per year.

Carol Moore, chief executive of the IKA, said there is "still a long way to go" before a return to pre-Covid levels."This activity in challenging times could not have taken place but for the generosity of the families of 65 deceased donors and 35 living kidney donors."

She said there are just under 600 people active on waiting lists for organ transplants including heart, lung, liver, kidney and pancreas.

In a speech delivered via video, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly announced that additional funding of more than €1 million has been allocated to transplant services this year.

“I am grateful to the donors, their families and all the staff who help make this life-saving gift to others possible. I am committed to further developing our organ donation and transplantation system and building on the progress we have achieved so far,” he said.

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is Health Correspondent of The Irish Times