Proud mum watches son win gold a decade after transplant
PROUD mum Cassandra O'Brien watched as her son won a gold medal for Ireland, 10 years after she transformed his life by donating a kidney to him.
Jack O'Brien (12) was the youngest member of the team which represented Ireland at the British Transplant Games in Newcastle last weekend.
The youngster won gold in the 3km race, but was not able to progress to the final of another race or compete in a long-jump event due to injury.
"He is chuffed with himself," his mum said last night.
"He has been showing all of his friends his medal. To look at him you'd never believe what he has been through."
Jack was born with kidney problems and was added to the donor list as a baby, but efforts to find a match were unsuccessful.
"He was on dialysis and he had high blood pressure," Cassandra said.
When Jack was two his mum donated a kidney to him.
The mum-of-two said that the entire family were "thrilled" to discover that she was a match.
"It was such a weight off, it was one thing we could take control of," she said.
Cassandra underwent the operation in Beaumont Hospital while Jack awaited the transplant in Temple Street.
"The kidney was transported with a garda escort," she said.
A decade later Jack, who will begin sixth class in September, is healthy and sports mad. He is also a big brother to Maisey (3).
His mum brings him to train with the Irish Kidney Association once a month and she is hopeful that next year he'll take home even more silverware.
"We've never looked back since the operation," Cassandra said.
The youngster, from Navan, Co Meath, was not the only one to do Team Ireland proud.
Former Munster and Ireland rugby international Richard Costello also took part in the games.
Costello, who received a kidney transplant from his wife Anna in 2012, won a silver medal in the shot putt competition.
Meanwhile, Sinead McGowan, a kidney transplant recipient from Galway who now lives in Australia, also took home a big medals haul.
She won three gold medals in track and field events for the 400m race, the 800m and the 3km event.
In total Irish athletes brought back 14 medals between them from the games.