The true gift of friendship

Mark Boyce, (back left) and Justin Weir (front left) with presenters Christine Bleakley and Adrian Chiles.
Mark Boyce, (back left) and Justin Weir (front left) with presenters Christine Bleakley and Adrian Chiles.

A Donaghcloney man who received a kidney from a friend is to feature in a new three-part documentary series which examines the strong bonds of friendship.

Justin Weir received the life changing donation from his friend Mark Boyce in November 2014 in a bid to restore some quality of Justin’s life.

Justin, who has two children, suffers from a hereditary kidney disease and was relying on dialysis to stay alive.

The two men were interviewed in Mark’s home by presenters Christine Bleakley and Adrian Chiles who are to co-present the programme, ‘Christine and Adrian’s Friendship Test’.

Said father-of -two Mark, “Christine is trying to show that Northern Ireland is one of the friendliest places to live. The programme is due to be aired at autumn/Christmas time and we will feature in the third part.”

Mark said the TV presenters put him and Justin at their ease, exploring Justin’s state of health at the time, the reason behind Mark’s decision and the difference it has made to both their lives.

Before the transplant, Mark could see Justin’s health deteriorating and, without telling him, he underwent tests to see if his kidney tissue was a match.

Unusually for a non-relative, it was, and the operation went ahead successfully at the City Hospital in Belfast.

Today, Mark feels no different to how he did previously. “I eat the same foods, do the same things. I have had no complications. I just make sure to keep healthy,” he said.

Justin’s life, meanwhile, has been transformed. He has almost finished his degree, has returned to martial arts training and is about to start his own class, and is beginning to look for a job.

Said Mark, “He had a few minor complications but that is to be expected. He is going from strength to strength.

“They asked us in the interview if the transplant had strengthened our friendship and there is no doubt it has.

“The main reason we took part in the programme was to spread the word about organ donation.”