'New shot at life' - Sam (5) starts school after Dad gifts him kidney
For five-year-old Sam Kinahan, his first day at school was even more special than for most, after his dad gave him the life-changing gift of a kidney.
Sam had been on dialysis from four-months-old, after he was diagnosed with posterior urethral valves, a condition found only in boys that affects the urethra tube running from the bladder.
Sam, from Baldoyle, had been able to go to play school for only short periods because he had to regularly attend Temple Street Hospital for dialysis.
But now, thanks to dad Ivan (39), who went under the knife four weeks ago, Sam not only has a brand new kidney but a "new shot at normal life" after starting lessons at St Laurence's School in Baldoyle.
"Sam is really excited, he's so ready for school," his mum Chloe (38) told the Herald.
"He wasn't able to go to play school much, as he was on dialysis.
"He was in and out of Temple Street three times a week, so he only went to play school twice a week for a couple of hours.
"But now because he has his transplant, Sam will have a normal life. He can have his first day at school and he's so excited about it and we will be in tears.
"The first day at school is special for every family, but for us even more so. I'm so proud of Sam and so proud of Ivan."
Chloe said she wanted to help raise awareness by talking about Sam's first day at school to encourage others to sign up to be kidney donors.
She also wants to ensure that other families know about the HSE's national renal living donor programme, which re- imburses some of a donor's salary and expenses because of the time that has to be taken off work for surgery.
"Being a donor is so important, and I really want to remind people of that," Chloe said.
"Sam's future has been changed due to his dad's gift of a kidney.
"We sat down and had the conversation and felt Ivan was the best one to offer our son a kidney as he's strong and recovery would be quicker.
"It was difficult knowing Sam and Ivan were in surgery and in different hospitals - Sam in Temple Street and Ivan in Beaumont - but the whole experience has been life-changing.
"Sam wasn't allowed to have baths before due to a line going into his heart. We could only wash him in an inch of water, sponging him down.
"He couldn't go swimming, he was on a very restricted diet. Because of the problems with his bladder, his kidneys were in bad shape and didn't develop properly.
"He had been on dialysis for four years, nine months and we just knew enough was enough.
"We couldn't wait any more on a kidney donor to come along, so Ivan stepped in and I'm so grateful he did.
"Sam had his first real bath recently and he was in there for an hour-and-a-half - he was all wrinkly.
"Sam's energy levels have gone right up, he's more affectionate than ever, his quality of life has improved.
"He can eat a more varied diet, though he's not brilliant on the vegetables just yet.
"Daddy gave Sam his kidney and it's been hard on Daddy too and we can't ever forget him giving our son this amazing donation.
"But there was no question that this would happen - this was Ivan's son and he was going to save him."
Sam told his parents he was excited about making new friends, colouring and carrying his own lunch box to school - and he has already decided what his career will be.
"He wants to be a zookeeper," Chloe said. "Now anything is possible. Our lives have all changed for the better.
"I'm going to get back into full-time work and Ivan will be back to his job in jewellery manufacturing within a few days.
"I can't wait to see Sam in his uniform, going through the school gates.
"Ivan and I will probably be in floods of tears."
The proud parents are also looking forward to Sam and his older sister, Ali (8), sharing all their stories from school in the months and years ahead.
The fam- ily paid trib- ute to the Irish Kidney Association, Temple Street Hospital and Beaumont Hospital, where Ivan had his kidney removed in June before it was transported to Temple Street where it was implanted in Sam.
"It was amazing," Chloe said. "The transplant isn't a cure but it's a very effective form of treatment.
"Sam is on medication for life, which makes him susceptible to bugs and infections.
"We just hope we can get through the winter and for Sam to get stronger and stronger.
"Now we are looking forward to normal things like putting a banana - which he couldn't eat before - in his lunch box for school.
"These are silly, little things that mean the world to us."
l For organ donor cards Freetext DONOR to 50050 or visit www.ika.ie/get-a-donor-card.
You can also download the IKA's digital organ donor to your smartphone.
Your wish to be an organ donor can also be included on the new-format driving licence.
For more information, go to the Irish Kidney Association on https://ika.ie/ and to get a donor card log on to http://www.organdonation.ie/donate.html or collect a donor card from your local pharmacy.