My cousin's kidney saved my life, says transplant op gran
A grandmother has told how she got her life back after her "hero" cousin donated a kidney.
Briege Dorman spent six years on dialysis while waiting for a suitable donor.
The 57-year-old grandmother, who finally underwent a transplant this week, said she owed everything to her cousin, Raymond Hughes, who offered up one of his healthy kidneys after being moved by watching her struggle with pain.
"Raymond has given me my life back - I don't know what I would have done without him," she told the Belfast Telegraph. "He is a hero in my eyes."
Briege lost one of her kidneys to cancer just before the other one stopped working.
She has had to undergo four-hour dialysis sessions three times a week for the past six years - meaning a 70-mile round trip from her home in Coalisland, Co Tyrone, to Newry.
She has not only had to deal with her own illness, but has also helped her son battle cancer.
Over the years, promises of a kidney from several would-be donors fell through.
But in an act of selflessness, Raymond offered to help.
"It was the only decision - the look in her face, it was so sad, and knowing the gift I could give," he said.
The 52-year-old, also from Coalisland, underwent surgery on Tuesday morning at Belfast City Hospital.
His kidney was removed and transplanted into Briege later that day.
The pair hope their story will inspire others.
Briege said that her life had been taken over by dialysis sessions every Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the past six years.
"It takes a big chunk out of your life - you can do nothing," she explained.
"I had two children who got married in that time and had babies and it didn't matter - you still had to go on with dialysis no matter what was happening.
"That was life. You couldn't go anywhere without thinking about it. Your life is not your own.
"I would get lifted at 7am in the morning, which meant a 5.30am or 6am start to get showered and so on before they called for me.
"My whole day was taken up with it. I was lying on a bed for four hours, and then when I came home I was not fit to do anything but go to bed."
Briege said she was stunned when Raymond offered to donate one of his kidneys.
"A few others had offered and hadn't followed through with it, and I thought that this was going to be another of those cases," she added.
"But then Raymond came back and said he had got all the tests done and that he was a good match.
"I nearly fell off my chair. I just didn't expect it. It's such a big decision."
Modest Raymond rejected any suggestion that he was a hero said he was embarrassed by all the texts he has been getting from family and friends. He added he simply wanted to help his cousin get her life back.
You can register to be an organ donor by calling the NHS Donor Line on 0300 123 23 23