Mark Dobson: 'After 15 months, light at end of the tunnel is brightening' in quest for kidney transplant
In his weekly column, dialysis patient Mark Dobson, who is the son of former MLA Jo-Anne, is preparing for a vital, long-awaited kidney transplant - thanks to a donation from his own mother
The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter. Mother's Day always brings out the soppy side in sons and daughters everywhere, and Sunday was no exception in the Dobson household as I tweeted out to thank mum for what she is preparing to do for me.
Mum and I are currently going through our cross-matching - no, that's not an angry way of determining which team a player joins, it's one of the final stages in our transplant journey in which we undergo testing, including blood testing, to ensure all is well ahead of surgery.
It has certainly been quite a journey to get to this point. The journey began 15 months ago when I first started the tests which identified that my donated kidney was beginning to shut down.
I went through major surgery in August to have my kidney removed. I have been on three four-hour sessions of dialysis each week ever since and, like all dialysis patients, my life has been governed by routine.
However, there has always been light at the end of the tunnel for me as mum didn't hesitate to put herself forward for the testing to donate a kidney to me to release me from this life sentence on dialysis.
That light has continued to brighten as we passed into the New Year and continued all of the rigorous tests at the Belfast City Hospital, to the point where we are now at the cross-matching stage, getting closer and closer to transplant.
When I say this, I always think of those who don't have the same opportunity which I have and who are worrying and waiting on the transplant list - many for decades - hoping upon hope for the phone call to tell them that a match organ has been found and that their lives are about to change completely.
Last week mum and I made the journey to Ballymena to catch up with Sarah Lamont and her son Joe. Sarah is an absolutely amazing mum, a hero mum, who donated her kidney and half of her liver to her son, who is the life and soul of the party.
It was lovely to spend time with them and to discuss our shared journey as mum and I prepare for our own transplant. Our stories were carried in Saturday's Belfast Telegraph and, if you missed us, you can catch up with it online and read all about our transplant tales.
We were meeting up with Sarah as she is joining Mum's Team Kidney Care UK relay team for the Belfast City Marathon in May. Special thanks to the amazing people at Galgorm Resort for hosting us and looking after us so well.
Last Thursday was International Women's Day but this year it also coincided with World Kidney Day - a very important day for all kidney patients and their families who, in our own unique way, remember and honour our donors and our own personal journey with organ donation.
It was lovely to see so many events taking place across our local renal units, including William Johnston, Kidney Care UK's Advocacy Officer, hosting an event at Altnagelvin Area Hospital with patients and the hardworking Renal Support Group.
Well done to everyone who marked World Kidney Day. Your encouraging, educating and campaigning makes a difference to those people I talked about whose life sentences on dialysis seem just that.
Patients need hope to see that light brighten at the end of the tunnel, and everyone who promotes the organ donation and transplantation message shines a light on a vital cause which changes and saves lives through modern medical miracles.
So, if you are reading this and you haven't told your loved ones about your wishes, please think about doing so - just a short conversation can save lives and make miracles come true.
Please consider supporting Team Kidney Care UK as they prepare to take on the Belfast City Marathon on May 7 - every little counts in the quest to support kidney patients and their families. You can make a donation via their online Just Giving Page: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/teamkidneycareukbelfastmarathon2018