A paramedic who donated a kidney to his sister has spoken of the “mind blowing” experience of giving the gift of life.
Sean and Eileen Mullan have shared their incredible story in a bid to encourage more people to register as organ donors.
Sean, an ambulance service station manager, made the decision to donate a kidney to his sister when her kidney function deteriorated in 2013.
The siblings, who are from the Antrim area originally, are hoping more people will join the organ donation register to help the 161 people in Northern Ireland on the transplant waiting list.
Eileen, who also works in the health service as a non-executive director for the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, described organ donation as “the most selfless act”.
She had kidney disease since birth and went into renal failure in 2009. She knew she would need to go on dialysis or have a kidney transplant at some point.
By January 2013, when her kidney function further deteriorated, her brother made the decision to find out about the Living Donor Programme.
Sean said: “I had seen the impact of dialysis from family experience and from my work with the ambulance service of how much it can affect the patient and their family’s lives.
“I was in no doubt that donating my kidney to Eileen would prevent her from having to go on to dialysis and greatly improve her quality of life.
“When I found out I was suitable and that I could continue to live life without any restrictions, I knew this was meant to happen.
“With the support of the transplant team and from speaking to other friends and relatives who had been through the experience, we were both very well prepared. Our transplant took place in July 2014.”
Speaking about how he felt after the operation Sean said: “What a feeling to wake up and know that I had helped my sister and that within 48 hours her kidney function was normal! Very surreal and mind blowing.
“I know that it’s a difficult decision for families to make about deceased organ donation. However, I feel that we are a generous but cautious population and if we realise the true potential of being a living donor to the people we love and know, the demand for deceased donations would be eased.”
Eileen said: “I have not looked back since Sean gave me the gift of life.
“Organ donation is a conversation every family should have together. Giving life is the most selfless act and we should all let our families know our wishes, so they don’t have to have the conversation when we’re no longer with them.
“What are you waiting for? Join the register.”