A REMARKABLE sequence of events has left one Carrickmore man hailing a second chance at life, after he received an historic kidney transplant during the current coronavirus crisis.
Conor Maguire had initially believed he would have to wait for at least another six months for the vital operation to take place, due to procedures being cancelled because of Covid-19.
Today though, he is back at home recovering with his wife and baby daughter after a matching organ was found, surgeons were consulted and they then decided to go ahead with the operation and admit him to the Covid-19 City Hospital in Belfast.
Conor was in the only non-coronavirus ward there and was subsequently transferred directly to the Royal Victoria Hospital where he became the first ever person in the North to undergo a kidney transplant there.
This marked the end of a difficult year for the project manager, from when he first began experiencing the symptoms resultant from his kidney operating at just six per-cent of its normal level.
Speaking to the UH Conor said the call to say a transplant match had been found was one of the greatest and most unexpected surprises of his life and it came shortly after he had been told all operations were cancelled due to the coronavirus restrictions.
“This has given me a second chance at life and I just can’t thank the medical staff at City and Royal enough for all that they’ve done for me,” he said.
“We were self-isolating for the past six weeks when one day my consultant surgeon, Tim Brown, phoned. It was unbelievable to hear him tell me that a match had been found and I had to decide there and then whether or not to go ahead with the operation.
“I had just ten minutes to say yes and make my way to the City Hospital. My fear was obviously about the risk of getting coronavirus, but in many ways this was one of the easiest decisions to make as this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“In normal circumstances there’s no debate, but there was with the way everything is at the moment with the coronavirus. But the surgeons told me that they’d do everything in their power to keep me protected and that’s what they did.
“It was very scary leaving my wife in the hospital carpark and walking into the hospital knowing there were Covid-19 patients there. I had no family with me, there were no visitors allowed and my immune system was going to be knocked out for the operation.”
Conor was admitted to the City Hospital on April 16 last, was then transferred to the Royal the following day for the operation before going back to the City on the Saturday to begin his recuperation.
Staff at both hospitals were fully kitted out with all the necessary personal protective equipment and the local man was eventually released from hospital on the Tuesday, much earlier than would normally be the case.
“People have asked me was I frightened going into the theatre for the operation. But I wasn’t because the team doing the transplant have done over 2,000 before me and are world class at their jobs,” he added.
“That moment when I got out of the hospital and saw my wife and daughter waiting in the carpark was just brilliant and so special,” he added.
“I was in a lot of discomfort and pain, but there was nothing like the chance to go home again. My kidney took an extra day to become fully operational.
“The donor was a 22-year-old and his family will never know just how much I appreciate and thank their son and them for what they’ve done for me.”
“I’ll never be able to repay them or thank the medical staff both in Omagh, Craigavon and Belfast for what they have done for me over the past year as well. They always filled me with such confidence that everything would be all right.”
Conor says his experience has brought home to him the importance of organ donation and encourages people to take the steps required to go onto the Organ Donation list.
His wife Bernadette is currently expecting the couple’s second child, and the family will remain in self-isolation for at least another three months. He has especially thanked his wife, Bernadette, his family and friends and the staff at the
Renal Unit at Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex for their help during what he says has been a difficult year.
As is normal for the beneficiaries of kidney transplants, he will have to travel to Belfast on a regular basis for further check-ups, but is content for now to settle and relax at his home.
“It’s only in the past few days that the pain has begun to ease,” he continued.“Being in the house all the time is hard enough, but I’m not fit for much anyway and just moving slowly around the house and entertaining my daughter.
“There can be difficult side-effects with the medication that I’m going to be on and my aim now is to just take things slowly and surely for the next few months.”