Naas woman who received transplant before lockdown runs mini marathon

Fundraiser

Naas woman who received transplant before lockdown runs mini marathon

Naas woman Sarah Flynn

A Kildare woman who is now ‘bursting with energy’ following a transformational kidney transplant in February 2020, just before Covid-19 lockdown, donned her running shoes for the virtual Women’s Mini Marathon last Saturday to raise funds for the Irish Kidney Association (IKA).

Sarah Flynn ran the 10km distance in her native Naas. She wore a bright yellow IKA t-shirt to run, powered by her new kidney donated by the family of a deceased donor, and which she affectionately calls ‘Jasper’.

Sarah, who has a rare autoimmune disorder, continued to work as a florist throughout her illness and although it had become more and more difficult as her kidney failure progressed she managed to continue working right up until her transplant.

Sarah describes how her failing kidney function had reduced her energy levels to a point where at the end of her working day she only had enough energy to crawl up the stairs in her home which she shares with her partner Ronan.

On the night of her transplant last February, the 34-year-old was in bed and just a few hours into her nine-hour nightly dialysis treatment, when at 2am she received a phone call from the transplant coordinator at Beaumont Hospital telling her to come to Dublin immediately for a kidney transplant.

She had had a special bag packed and tucked away in her wardrobe for several months before in anticipation of this important phone call. However, when the call actually came, she forgot to bring the bag with her.

She said, "on my haste to get to the hospital and with the flurry of emotions I was experiencing, including excitement mixed with the sad thought that some other family had lost a loved one, I forgot to bring my bag with me”.

Eight months later Sarah set about unpacking the same bag she never got to use.

She said, “Since my transplant my life has been completely transformed. I’m bursting with energy now. I’ve gone from feeling total exhaustion and only being able to crawl up the stairs, to walking, then running, painting and decorating, gardening, enjoying a little socialising with my friends and basically experiencing a hugely improved quality of life.

“One of the strangest things I found after my transplant was getting used to seeing my dialysis machine beside my bed, which had become more like a relic to my past, as I no longer had to hook up to it every night for nine hours at a time.

“After being discharged from hospital post-transplant, I gradually built up my fitness levels, firstly walking for 2km with a cane once a day, then progressing to doing it twice a day, and later dispensing with the walking aid and gradually being able to run.

“I loved my job as a florist, but it was very physically demanding and working in cold temperatures did not suit my condition. No matter how many layers of clothes I wore I could not keep warm. Since my transplant I have been lucky to secure employment as a civil servant which is less physically strenuous. I can work remotely from my home and stay safe as transplant recipients are among the high-risk category for Covid-19. I’ve come so far since receiving my transplant and I have my donor to thank for it.”

Sarah decided to run the virtual women’s mini marathon on its final day, last Saturday, September 10, to honour her donor and to mark European Day for Organ Donation & Transplantation.

“I’m delighted with the support I have received from family and friends and to have raised over €1,200 for the Irish Kidney Association. It is such a deserving charity that advocates for kidney patients and their families, and also promotes the organ donor card. I hope that I can help raise awareness about the importance of organ donation and hopefully shine a light on all those people like me who experience organ failure and the hugely important and selfless gift of organ donation.”

Organ Donor Cards can be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050. You can also visit the website www.ika.ie/get-a-donor-card or download the app to your phone.