'I woke on my birthday with a new kidney from my brother', says dad
Jonathan Ahearne is beginning the new year with a fresh lease of life - and it's all thanks to his brother Gerard, who donated a kidney to him.
The Blanchardstown dad is now looking forward to booking a holiday in the sun after his life-saving operation, the second kidney transplant he has received.
He was born with a kidney disease, and underwent a series of operations as a child. However, when he was 18, his health deteriorated.
Prior to his first transplant, he underwent dialysis treatment at the Mater Hospital for two years.
Jonathan subsequently received a kidney from a deceased donor, for which he was very grateful.
"I had no problems for 13 years, but then experienced acute rejection," Jonathan said.
His kidney function started to decline in the past few years and last March, Jonathan found himself back on dialysis again.
Members of his family put themselves forward for screening at Beaumont Hospital under its living donation programme.
His brother Gerard (32) was tested, and found to be a suitable match to donate his kidney, and then the process to allow the transplant to take place got under way.
"It took six months from start to finish," Jonathan said.
"We knew he was a match within two weeks, and then it took five months to get all the tests done and to get an operating date and everything else."
The transplant was done on November, 20, the day before Jonathan turned 34.
"I woke up on my birthday with a new kidney and back to normal. Gerard still gave me a card," he said, laughing.
He said that he has felt brilliant since then, and is really looking forward to 2018, along with his partner Allissa Larkin and kids Alex (7) and Molly (4).
His daughter has a made a special request that the family go to Santa Ponsa in Spain again.
"We didn't get a holiday last year because I was on dialysis. So we are going to make up for it," said courier Jonathan.
He pointed out that organ donation doesn't just save the recipient - the whole family benefits as a result.
He spoke out as the Irish Kidney Association (IKA) ran its annual campaign at this time of year, which encourages families to discuss organ donation and let their loved ones know their wishes.
For organ donor cards, freetext DONOR to 50050 or visit the website: ika.ie/card.
Meanwhile, your wish to be an organ donor can also be included on the new format driving licence.