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Connacht Tribune

New baby sets the seal on year to remember for kidney recipient

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The Galway wife of a former county hurler – whose life was changed utterly after a successful kidney transplant – has added to their year to remember…by giving birth to their first baby.

Transplant recipient David Beirne from Knockcroghery, and his wife Irene Nestor from Brownsgrove, Tuam, welcomed their first child Ailbhe into the world this month; a joyous occasion after a challenging few years.

It was a double cause for celebration because David only recently underwent a kidney transplant – and he was able to witness the birth of his first child thanks to the life changing organ donation.

David, who is a former Roscommon hurler and member of St. Dominic’s GAA club, was forced to end his playing career prematurely when he was diagnosed with kidney failure at the age of 25.

“It was a big shock and was definitely something I was not expecting to hear,” said David. “It took a couple of days to register.”

The avid hurler had made a visit to his GP in 2013 for an ankle injury, but when his doctor took some blood tests, David received far more serious news.

“It was a surreal week to be honest; even when they were doing tests I was thinking that I would be fine, I was 25 years old and healthy,” he said.

“But it can happen at any age, from the very young to the very old, no one is immune to being sick.”

For the next four years, David underwent dialysis treatment in Merlin Park while awaiting a kidney donation.

David managed to get through this difficult period thanks to the support of his family and community.

“The support network I have is so important,” he said. “They were the ones who were there when I was recovering and everything; they are the best in the world.”

Despite his condition, David’s passion for hurling never faded and he was a manager with his local club throughout his treatment.

“You have to have some sort of outlet, you can’t just walk away from everything,” he said. “I didn’t let my illness define me because if you do that you struggle to find reasons to get up in the morning.”

The young father has not skipped a beat when it comes to fitness and he is staying active as a member of Transplant Team Ireland, a sporting programme for transplant recipients.

“You can’t put your life on hold because of illness, that’s the worst thing you can do.”

Although David will never know the identity of his organ donor, he is extremely grateful to the family who, despite suffering the loss of a loved one, made a compassionate and selfless decision that now allows David to live a healthy life.

“Because of my donor, I was able to be there for my wife the whole way through her pregnancy and for when my daughter was born,” he said. “You are so thankful to them every day.”

This is Organ Donor Awareness Week, which aims to promote organ donation and also reminds individuals to talk to their families about their organ donation wishes.

Thanks to organ donations, David and over 4,000 others in Ireland are enjoying extended lives.

“It is utter shock when you are told you are getting a transplant because when you are waiting so long you start to think the call is never going to come,” said David

“Now people say to me that I must be delighted that I have a new life, I tell them no – I just got my old one back.”

Connacht Tribune

Gardaí in Galway operating with fewer patrol cars

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Five large Garda stations in County Galway are operating with fewer Garda vehicles now than two years ago – leading to a call for the local fleet to be restored to 2020 levels.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has confirmed to Galway West TD Noel Grealish that the Garda fleet in the Galway Garda Division stands at 116 as of October of this year.

That’s greater than any of the years from 2012 to 2019, but it represents a reduction on the Garda fleet when compared with 2020 and 2021 figures.

Galway Gardaí had a dozen fewer vehicles this year, compared with 2020. There are 13 fewer patrol cars, down from 96 to 83; there was no change in the number of vans and motorcycles, and the division acquired one extra 4×4.

Garda stations in Ballinasloe, Loughrea, Tuam, Clifden and Salthill have all lost patrol cars in the past 24 months, according to the official figures.

Independent Deputy Grealish has demanded a restoration of the Garda fleet in Galway to 2020 levels.

“Gardaí have a demanding enough job to do, but it makes that important work even more difficult if they are not allocated the proper resources,” Deputy Grealish said.

“A reduction of twelve vehicles in less than two years across the Galway Division, down from 128 at the end of 2020 to 116 in October this year, is concerning.

“I have asked the Minister for Justice to explain why this has happened, that the number of vehicles in the Galway Division has fallen by ten per cent, when nationally the total fleet actually increased by 6%. I am demanding that they at the very least be restored to their 2020 levels,” he said.

Deputy Grealish pointed out that almost all areas of the county had suffered a reduction in Garda vehicles since the beginning of last year.  Ballinasloe currently has six vehicles, a reduction of two since the end of 2020; Clifden also has six, down one; Loughrea was down three to eleven; Salthill was down three to ten; the biggest reduction in Garda vehicles was in the Tuam area down five to twelve.

Galway City’s fleet increased by two vehicles, for a total of 71.

Minister McEntee said that the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris was responsible for the administration and management of An Garda Síochána, including the purchase, allocation, and effective and efficient use of Garda vehicles.

“As Minister, I have no direct role in these matters. I am assured, however, that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review to ensure their optimum use in light of identified operational needs and emerging crime trends,” she added.

Galway City Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) last month complained that the number of vehicles available to Gardaí in Salthill and Knocknacarra was insufficient.

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Connacht Tribune

Progress stalls on setting up Eating Disorder Community Health Team

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Despite an increasing number of young people experiencing eating disorders, a new specialist community team has yet to be set up in Galway well over a year after it was announced.

The delay is mainly due to a difficulty recruiting a consultant psychiatrist to lead the team, this week’s HSE West Regional Health Forum meeting was told.

Councillor John Connolly (FF) queried the progress on the new Eating Disorder Community Health Team within the Child Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) after the HSE revealed in September 2021 that it would be set up in response to the hike in youths presenting for treatment.

Chief Officer of HSE Community Healthcare West, Breda Crehan-Roche, said interviews had been conducted to recruit a clinical lead, but so far none had been appointed. Six other staff had been appointed and these had been assigned to existing teams within CAMHS while a psychiatrist could come on board to manage the team.

“We have difficulty getting locum cover. Interviews were held. It’s a priority. We are doing a running recruitment process,” she told this month’s meeting.

It took between six and nine months to appoint a person to such a senior post.

“There is a lot of work in specialist intervention in the eating disorders team.”

She admitted that there were no records of how much of an increase there had been in referrals to CAMHS Galway for youths troubled by an eating disorder as all records were on paper rather than on computer.

“I can’t ask clinicians and therapists to pull together manual figures,” she stated. But the indication from staff on the ground was that there had been a downward trend in referrals post-Covid.

There was a move to keeping digital records by the middle of next year.

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Connacht Tribune

Retired Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan dies aged 78

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Retired Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan has passed away at the age of 78.

Born in Kilkenny in 1944, Bishop Drennan studied for the priesthood at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth from where he was ordained in 1968

As a priest, the then Fr Drennan served as curate in both St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish in Kilkenny and then in Ballycallan.

From 1975 he taught Sacred Scripture at St. Kieran’s College, returning to Rome in 1980 to become Spiritual Director at the Irish College there for the next five years.

When Fr. Martin again returned home he became a Lecturer in Sacred Scripture at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth where he continued to teach until his appointment as Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin in 1997.

Following the retirement of Bishop James McLoughlin, Bishop Drennan was chosen as Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh and Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora and was installed on 3rd July 2005 in Galway Cathedral serving to his retirement in 2016.

A brief statement released by the Diocese of Galway this afternoon confirmed his passing and offered their sympathies to Bishop Drennan’s family and all those who mourn his loss.

Funeral arrangements for the late Bishop Drennan will be announced later

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