Belfast Telegraph

Ryan's life begins all over again after his mum donates a kidney

By Lisa Smyth

A northern Ireland teenager is taking part in the Westfield Health British Transplant Games after he received a kidney from his mum. Ryan O'Kane, from Swatragh, has been given a second chance at life after two possible organ matches went wrong - on one occasion surgeons had actually opened him up before deciding the donor kidney was not good enough.

The 15-year-old - who spent most of his childhood in hospital and even had one of his kidneys removed before his second birthday - is now fit and well after his mum Martina stepped in to help her son. He will now compete in several events over the next few days.

"As soon as Ryan went on the transplant list I started getting tested to see if I would be compatible to give him one of my kidneys," explained Ms O'Kane.

Ryan was born with a defect in his urinary tract which damaged his kidneys and the condition became apparent within weeks of his birth.

"They told us Ryan might need dialysis or a transplant one day," added Ms O'Kane.

"You just go along in shock. All you hope for when you have a child is for them to be healthy and you don't think something like this is going to happen to you. Ryan was a very sick baby, the first year was tough enough. His right kidney was doing nothing and they ended up removing that when he was 19 months old.

"He had feeding issues, he had a lot of urine infections and was sick a lot. He had a bladder stoma fitted when he was four-and-a-half months to try and relieve the pressure on the kidney that was working."

Doctors continued treating Ryan for the effects of his condition, but when he was 12 he deteriorated so badly he needed dialysis just to stay alive and was placed on the waiting list for a new kidney.

"His appetite was really bad, he felt sick and he just looked awful," said Ms O'Kane.

"He started off getting dialysis five nights a week and that went up to six. It took 10 hours to do and he couldn't leave his room while he was on the machine.

"We got two phonecalls while he was on the list. The first time we were told he was second choice for a kidney if it turned out it wasn't suitable for the first person, but that didn't go ahead.

"The second time, Ryan was actually on the operating table and they had cut him open. They came to me and told me they weren't sure about the kidney he was going to receive, so we decided not to go ahead.

"As soon as Ryan came around we told him. We knew he had the scar on the outside but nothing inside. He was very quiet to begin with and then got angry because we were told it was so rare for something like that to happen, and he couldn't understand why it happened to him."

Soon after Ms O'Kane was told she could donate a kidney to her son. "I didn't think twice about it," she said.

"Ryan sailed through the operation but I found it a bit harder. He did have some problems after, but he is doing well now and can't wait to take part in the Games."

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