Mark Dobson: Fingers, toes and everything else crossed for the big day
In his weekly column, dialysis patient Mark Dobson, the son of former MLA Jo-Anne, prepares for an operation which should see him waking up today with a new kidney, donated by his mum
This is a little bit of a surreal column to write this week as I look out over Belfast from the Transplant Unit on floor 11 of Belfast City Hospital - it's all beginning to get very real as I prepare to receive a kidney from mum.
We are all set here for our surgery, which was due to take place yesterday and as I type this I can't help thinking that today, as you read this column, it will all be behind us and we will both be starting our recovery!
We have been admitted and are through all of our initial tests and with fingers, toes and everything else crossed are ready for what the day will bring.
The plan is that mum will be transferred to surgery first under the expert hand of our super surgeon, Tim Brown. Once mum is through her surgery and safely in recovery, I will be transferred to theatre and Tim will carry out the operation where I receive the kidney which mum has donated to me.
It's daunting to think about it, but we both know we are in the best hands as our transplant unit is world renowned and a global leader - a jewel in our crown which in Northern Ireland we can be so very proud of!
Sitting back in bed in a unit which mum always calls the '11th floor of hope', I know I am apprehensive - who wouldn't be - but I draw strength from thinking about the countless people, many of whom we have visited in this very ward, who have made this journey before us.
I also think back to my first transplant in 2009 when- again it was snowing at that time - I received the gift of life thanks to the selfless generosity of a family I will never know.
It was last January when I first started the tests which confirmed that my donated kidney was failing and thus began a journey which has led us to this operation.
A journey which has led mum, who is in the room next door to me in the same ward, to put herself forward to donate a kidney to me.
It means the world to me that she is giving me a new lease of life - free from dialysis and free to live once again.
This morning was a strange feeling in my dialysis unit at Daisy Hill Hospital as I said a goodbye which was tinged with sadness, at a time when I should be full of joy. I have made so many firm friends and it will be with mixed emotions that, all being well, I will no longer need to make the early morning trips to Newry which have become a part of everyday life for mum and I since last August.
As mum and I walked into hospital this morning, cake and biscuits in hand for my fellow patients and the nurses, we arrived in a packed waiting room where everyone was waiting as always for the doors to open and for their dialysis to begin. We got the chance to let them know about our imminent transplant and their kind words and prayers were exactly what we both needed to calm us at the beginning of the week we have been waiting for.
It is surreal though to be in this position, once again, where I rely on medical miracles, super surgeons and the selfless generosity of others to save my life.
As a kidney patient, donor recipient and a proud son, I think the world of my mum for what she is putting herself through for me.
Over the years we have met so many transplant trailblazers, people who have their own personal stories of how their lives were saved and changed by organ donation. Now that mum and I are about to make that strong bond between mother and son, if it were even possible, stronger, I want to once again repeat my message for people to have that conversation about organ donation to let their loved ones know about their wishes.
We have a world-beating transplant unit in Belfast, wonderful, miracle-working surgeons and staff and the most giving population in the world, yet we still don't have enough organs for those who need them. That simple conversation in homes across the country could change that for the future, leading to more miracles, more lives saved and a better brighter future for all.
I will be back again next week after surgery to let you know all about it!
Keep us in your thoughts.