The life of a Dundalk man has been saved after the remarkable generosity of his mother-in-law, who gave him one of her kidneys.
Andrew Gallagher (29) from Fatima, but now living in Tallanstown, received a kidney from his mother-in-law Jacqueline Foster (51) in November 2013.
Andrew and Jacqueline’s story started back in 2008, after a routine health check test at a gym revealed Andrew had high blood pressure.
“I had been experiencing these blinding headaches, and I was taking painkillers almost every day as a result. Other than that I had no idea anything was wrong,” said Andrew, who was just 24 at the time. “When I got tested a week later in Felda, I still had high blood pressure and I was sent to my GP.
Further investigations led to his diagnosis of kidney disease.
“It was a major shock. I just thought it would be a case of taking a few pills and that would deal with it.”
He managed to stave off dialysis treatment through medication and a restricted diet for two and a half years.
“When I was told I had to start dialysis it was a shock. I don’t think I realised how ill I was up to that point.
“I was getting dialysis three times a week in Malahide. It was an exhausting process, both physically and mentally.”
He married Nicola in June 2011 and they welcomed their baby girl Evie into the world in September 2013 while Andrew was still receiving dialysis treatment. Both Andrew’s brother and sister were screened for living donation but they weren’t suitable matches.
“Because of my blood type, neither of my sibling were eligible.
“Jacqueline told me that she was going to get tested. I didn’t want her to feel pressured about and she went to get tested off her own bat.”
Jacqueline began the screening and matching process took approximately 18 months.
“We never spoke that much about it until the result eventually came back that she was a suitable match.
“I owe everything to Jacqueline. She saved my life. She had only know me a few years and she was prepared to give me a kidney.”
“I didn’t realise that a mother-in-law to her son-in-law was such a rare transplant. It’s the biggest thing anyone could ever give you.”
They travelled as a family to hospital and underwent the operation last November.
“We were out of hospital within a week. My health has been great since, I didn’t even need any follow up dialysis, and now I just take the anti-rejection drugs.”
Nicola and her two sisters who together run their own hairdressing business in Dundalk called Dejavu along with 20 plus supporters have taken part in the annual Dundalk 10k Run to help raise awareness for organ donation and fund raise for the cause.
“I’d say to anyone to carry a donor card. It’s the greatest thing you could do. People need to know that you don’t need to be related to give a transplant,” said Andrew