herald

Tuesday 19 November 2019

Heart transplant dad to walk in memory of his organ donor

Father-of-two John Brennan
Father-of-two John Brennan

As thousands of runners soothe their aching muscles after taking part in yesterday's Dublin City Marathon, family man John Brennan will be gearing up for his own marathon of sorts.

The 38-year-old father-of-two, from Tallanstown, Co Louth, is looking forward to walking the 5k Remembrance Run at Dublin's Phoenix Park next Sunday which honours those who have died.

While the mini-run may seem like a walk in the park for many, for John it will be a landmark achievement.

Not only was he technically dead after 'flatlining' on the operating table for 40 seconds after suffering a cardiac arrest in his 20s, his chances of even celebrating his 30th birthday looked grim.

Despite being born with a congenital heart condition which killed his mother at the age of 48, John managed to hold down a job with Largo Foods - which manufactures Tayto crisps - get married to his wife Claire (36) and have two children, Lauren (12) and Shaun (10) while he was treated with medication and a defibrillator during his 20s.

Miracle

However, once he hit his 30s, his condition deteriorated to the point where he had to be placed on life support for eight days when his organs started to fail.

He bounced back on Lauren's eighth birthday, but he continued to struggle.

His consultant put him on the heart transplant waiting list last summer and miraculously, a compatible heart became available within just three weeks.

Now, just 13 months after the operation, he has never felt better.

"I'm doing really well," he told the Herald.

Not only does he walk 5km a day, he also racks up another 20km a week on his stationary bike.

In addition, he hopes to represent Ireland in the 2020 World Transplant Games.

The generous donor whose organs went on to give him a new lease of life - as well as six other recipients - is never far from his thoughts. It's the memory of that anonymous donor whom he plans to honour in next weekend's run.

"I cherish every moment that I have now and I want to give back. I wouldn't be here unless a total stranger saved my life," he said.

John says he hopes his gratitude will inspire more people to think of organ donation.

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