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

Delight: David and Irene with baby Ailbhe.

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.”