Aoife Adams with her younger brother Daniel Watters
A local woman has told how she will be forever grateful to her “superhero” brother who gave her a new lease of life by donating a kidney.
Aoife Adams received a life-changing gift from her younger brother Daniel Watters, both from Dundalk, when they underwent a successful living donor kidney transplant on February 10th last year.
Aoife, a Law lecturer in DkIT, was diagnosed with Stage 4 Chronic Kidney Disease 10 years ago but through adherence to a strict renal diet, under the watchful eye of dietician Barbara Gilman in the Mater, she managed to maintain her kidney function and live a relatively normal life.
However, two years ago the mother-of one’s health deteriorated with the onset of kidney failure. Last year Aoife was referred to the Beaumont Hospital in the hope that a pre-emptive transplant might occur before Aoife would need to start dialysis.
Aoife’s husband Mark, and Daniel, both put themselves forward to commence the screening process for living donation and both were a match.
Daniel – Aoife’s only sibling - was a “full-house match”, which he was told is quite rare, and so took it upon himself to volunteer to donate his kidney as it was more likely to be successful.
The transplant came just in time for Aoife who would have been starting dialysis early in 2020 had the transplant not gone ahead.
Aoife said that the morning after the transplant, although still groggy, she knew straight away that it was successful, saying that “it felt like a fog had been lifted and I felt truly alive again”.
Aoife said that seeing Daniel that morning was “a wonderfully joyous moment”, knowing that her younger brother was doing well and that his sacrifice was worth it.
Ten months later Aoife said she hasn’t looked back and is enjoying a whole new lease of life thanks to Daniel’s altruism, despite having to cocoon as a result of Covid for most of this time.
Aoife and Mark’s daughter Sophia is delighted to have her mammy back to full health and have the energy to play with her and calls her uncle Daniel her “real-life superhero”.
Aoife said: “It is only now that I have my health back that I realise quite how unwell I was before the transplant.
“Every day I am amazed at my energy levels, and every morning my scar reminds me of the marvels of modern medicine and the sacrifice my brother made so that I could have a second chance at living a healthy life.
“I don’t take a moment for granted, even during Covid.
“I know I am extremely fortunate and have so much to be thankful for.”
Aoife said she has spent much of the last ten months cocooning due to the pandemic, enjoying cooking all the foods she couldn’t eat before and having energy to do so.
She is also back to work remotely and is delighted to have the energy to be back at work.
A couple of weeks after their surgery, the transplant unit had to temporarily cease transplants due to Covid.
“We are extremely grateful and lucky that everything fell into place for us”, Daniel said.
The civil servant continued: “I feel lucky to be in a position to donate the kidney to my only sibling.
“We were very fortunate, I was first tested in October for donation and the surgery took place four months later.
“It was an extremely short process for us in comparison to others in similar situations.
“My colleagues were very accommodating as well which helped with this timeline.
“Looking back now, there is no difference in my health today than there was prior to the surgery.
“I would urge anyone who is in a position to be tested to come forward and if circumstances are right, go ahead with donation.
“To see Aoife walking down the corridor in St Damien’s ward before me was an extraordinary moment and seeing her able to lift Sophia now makes it all worthwhile.
“As my older sister, Aoife always looked out for me when I was younger, and still does, it was nice to be able to do something for her.”
Daniel and his fiancé Mary were due to get married in September but took the decision in May to postpone their wedding until October 2021 due to the pandemic.
Aoife and Daniel’s parents, Margaret and Frankie Watters, are relieved and elated that both of their children are now back to full health and are counting down the days until next October to celebrate Daniel and Mary’s big day.
The siblings shared their story in support of Organ Donor Awareness Week 2021 which is organised by the Irish Kidney Association and which took place from 27th March – 3rd April.
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