Mark Dobson: Hospitals are full of people's criss-crossing life journeys
In his weekly column, dialysis patient Mark Dobson, who is the son of former MLA Jo-Anne, looks at how he has made close connections with others going through the same experience
I often described Daisy Hill Hospital as my home away from home when I was attending three times every week for my four hour dialysis sessions.
Now post-transplant surgery I am still attending the City Hospital for twice weekly appointments so that they can keep a close eye on my transplanted kidney and make sure everything is going well with my recovery.
So, Belfast City has, albeit temporarily, replaced Daisy Hill as my home away from home and it has been lovely meeting and getting to know so many people as mum and I visit the renal unit.
However, it has made me think a lot more about how as patients our journeys connect and collide as we put ourselves and, in many cases, our lives in the hands of the dedicated health professionals.
During the weeks since our surgery at the City Hospital, mum and I have had the privilege of meeting countless families who have been visiting their loved ones.
Whether it's on the wards, in the canteen or the corridors, the hospital is full of criss-crossing journeys as patients and their families share their worries and joys, their ups and their downs.
It makes me all the more determined to continue to promote the life-saving and giving power of organ donation when we hear the real-life stories and pain of patients who are waiting on a transplant.
During the week mum gave her first post-surgery presentation to the members of Banbridge Rotary Club and we also got the chance to meet with our latest marathon runner for Kidney Care UK - Emma Donaghy from Crumlin.
Emma and I have had our lives completely transformed through kidney transplants from our mums and her story is one of both inspiration and love. Emma was born with Alport's Syndrome which led to a childhood of painful kidney infections and following diagnosis the kidney disease had left her with debilitating hearing loss.
In January 2015 her kidneys had completely failed and she began dialysis which kept her alive until she received her transplant from her mum in June of that year.
I totally agree with Emma when she says that her quality of life after transplant is incomparable to that on dialysis and we are both indebted to our hero mums for the amazing gifts which they have given to us to enable us to live as fit and healthy a life as possible.
Mum and I loved to hear Emma's amazing story as we met her along with her kidney donor mum Claire!
Welcome to Team Kidney Care, Emma, and a massive thank you for your support to help patients and their families!
Earlier, in what turned out to be a completely hectic week, Mum and I made the journey to the UTV Live News studio to do our first post-surgery television interview.
We have been completely overwhelmed by messages of love and support as we continue our recovery and it has been such a boost to us to get the chance to help promote our passion - organ donation!
I'm also currently making the arrangements to have a stent removed, which is one of those steps along the road to recovery which I need to take. I will know more next week about when I will be going in for the procedure.
That's it for this week - looking forward to another busy week ahead!
You can support Team Kidney Care UK via their Just Giving online donation page at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/teamkidneycareukbelfastmarathon2018