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Inspirational Omagh woman still waiting for transplant

“HAVING a kidney would mean so much to me, as I just want to live a normal life, like any other 27-year-old…”
 
These are the heartfelt words of Eamie Gormley who has waited for nearly eight years to receive a kidney transplant.
 
Living with this hidden illness has not been easy for the Omagh woman, who is not allowed to go more than two days without receiving dialysis – even though she looks well from the outside.
 
Now Eamie is on a mission to educate local people about the importance of organ donation – the ‘gift of life’ as she aptly calls it – and she hopes her story will encourage people to become ‘live donors’ to help not only herself, but to save others in need.
 
Eamie explained that she was just six-years-old when she was diagnosed with ‘nephrotic syndrome’ – a condition that causes the kidneys to leak large amounts of protein from the blood into the urine.
 
She remembers the initial symptoms of her condition as if it were yesterday.
 
“My face and ankles were puffy, and I had no energy,” Eamie described. 
 
“I went to the doctor’s surgery, and from there I was sent to a children’s hospital in Belfast. My kidneys were failing, and I needed dialysis.
 
“I began getting ‘peritoneal dialysis’, which involved a tube in my tummy which was connected to a machine for ten hours at night-time. My mum did this for me at home.”
 
Eamie had numerous admissions to hospital and countless surgeries, until the age of 13 when she received a kidney transplant from a deceased donor.
 
That kidney served Eamie well for seven wonderful years, however it failed just shy of her 20th birthday – and then the wait for a new kidney began once more.
 
Currently, Eamie is receiving haemodialysis at Omagh Renal Unit three times a week and each session lasts three and a half hours.
 
“This enables me to have my blood cleaned through a dialysis machine that filters my toxins through an artificial kidney and returns my cleaned blood back to me,” Eamie explained.
 
“Dialysis can make me lethargic and nauseated, and I often wonder what it is like to feel well: To do normal activities, such as swimming or having a spa day with my friends.
 
“Instead I’m attached to a machine to keep me going, and I only have three days off in one week.”
 
She continued, “Though we look well from the outside, on the inside we are physically and emotionally drained.
“I am currently on a strict diet that is extremely bland, so eating out is quite limited and I need to restrict my fluids to 600mls in 24 hours which can be difficult to adhere to.”
 
For Eamie, receiving a kidney from a live donor would mean the world.
 
“Live donation would definitely be my best option,” Eamie said. “With having a previous transplant before, I now have extremely high antibodies and this is making it harder for me to get a match.
 
“I have been told that I could be waiting anywhere from ten to 15 years for another match on the deceased list.”
 
She added, “I really do believe that more awareness needs to be brought to organ donation as so many people or all age groups are affected.
 
“I have missed out on a lot because I have to go for my dialysis, but thankfully at the same time, I am still alive and trying to live to the best of my ability.
 
“I would encourage everyone who is interested in organ donation to carefully consider live donation as it really is the gift of life.”
 
• If you would like to consider live donation to help Eamie or anyone else, please visit  www.donatelife.co.uk or call the live donor number 028 9504 8293.
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