Organ recipients share stories of their ‘gift of life’

‘We need to introduce the opt-out system for organ donation,’ says lung recipient

A donor is prepared for organ transplant. File photograph: Getty Images

A donor is prepared for organ transplant. File photograph: Getty Images


“They were the finest of people. All young, in their 20s and 30s with so much to live for and loads of potential. But fortune was not on their side,” lung transplant recipient Gordon Ryan said, as he told the story of his life-saving operation.

He had many friends with cystic fibrosis who had run out of time and for whom there were no suitable lungs, he said.

“Seeing them pass away convinced me that we need to introduce the opt-out system for organ donation. It has been tried and tested in other European countries – most notably Spain – so why not here?” he asked.

Mr Ryan, from Boyle, Co Roscommon, who had a double lung transplant in the Mater hospital in Dublin in July 2013, said he thought of his donor and his family constantly and was “forever grateful” to them for giving him a future.

“It is absolutely unacceptable for people to be dying on the waiting lists when that option is there for us. I’m calling on the Minister for Health today to introduce it as soon as possible.”

Other organ recipients included Garda Alan Gleeson (34) from Listowel, Co Kerry, who received his first kidney transplant at the age of 16. His transplant eventually failed when he was in his early 30s and he commenced dialysis treatment at Beaumont Hospital.

Discovering his kidney had failed came as a “hammer blow” and he wondered whether he would lose his job and how his family would cope with the news.

Garda Gleeson, who is based in Dublin, rises at 2.50am three days a week for the four-hour treatment, then returns home to sleep before he goes to work.

He praised colleagues for their support and said he was lucky his job was not 9-to-5. But life on dialysis was “very restrictive”.

Most days, following the “harsh and tough” process, he would feel sick and fatigued.

He urged people to speak to their loved ones about donation.

Organ Donor Awareness Week runs from this Saturday, April 2nd, to April 9th. See