Mark Dobson: The news a fellow patient has received a transplant spreads like a wave of joy
In the third of his exclusive weekly columns, Mark Dobson, son of former MLA Jo-Anne, tells us about undergoing kidney dialysis
I'm writing my third column hooked up to my dialysis machine in Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry. Although the stormy weather made for fewer cars on the road as we made our journey from Waringstown, mum and I arrived at a packed car park at Daisy Hill.
My admiration for the doctors, nurses and staff who look after all of us dialysis patients only increases with time - they are the constant calm within any storm. Despite all the weather warnings, the incredible staff at Daisy Hill were working away as any other morning.
There was only one change in our schedule as a result of Storm Ophelia and that was slightly shortened dialysis sessions. This was to allow the nurses, including Barbara, Adele and Ursula, who were working on through their breaks today, to begin the afternoon dialysis patients earlier - safety first as always!
Being on dialysis means meeting and getting to know so many amazing people who come in and out of your life but whose friendships last for a lifetime. This week in Daisy Hill alone we are currently two patients down as both have gone for a transplant and their new lives begin.
This tips the number of transplants undertaken at the City Hospital in Belfast this year alone over the 100 mark. That's 100 lives changed, 100 loved ones returned to their families, free from the cycle of dialysis - lives previously placed on hold, perhaps for many years, resumed.
Back in August when I had my transplant removed, the board in the City Hospital confirmed 66 transplants - my surgeon Tim Brown, consultant nephrologist Dr Aisling Courtney and their teams have certainly been working extremely hard to transform lives.
The camaraderie amongst patients means that the sheer joy of hearing the news that a fellow patient has received a transplant spreads like a wave of joy … Every single transplant stands as an indescribable symbol of hope for all patients and the power of organ donation remains as strong as ever.
Last Wednesday night it was great to get back home from the City Hospital.
The surgery to remove my PD line from my tummy, which I mentioned in my column last week, went well and, released from the excellent care of the nurses, I was back home to my own bed!
Despite getting used to the disappointment of knowing that home PD dialysis isn't going to work for me, home cooking certainly is. Time to be spoilt over and over again by mum and to find out from dad all the news from the farm. I really miss being part of day to day life on the farm but like all young farmers I'm determined to get back into the yard and onto the quad … fingers crossed this could be as early as next summer!
Organ donation really is the gift of life that keeps on giving and in Northern Ireland we are one of the most generous and giving people. So many people are always putting others first as they go to extraordinary lengths to fundraise to make life better. Over the weekend I read about two Dungiven brothers who raised over £20,000 for the renal units at Belfast City and Altnagelvin Hospitals. Not only did one brother give a kidney to the other, they have united an entire community behind organ donation with absolutely amazing results.
Mum is also supporting Mark Gordon, from our own village of Waringstown, who is going that extra mile for kidney patients and their families by running the entire 26.2 miles of the Dublin Marathon in aid of charity Kidney Care UK!
He has a very personal reason for his fundraising, as his mum Audrey received a transplanted kidney back in 1994 and he's determined to honour that gift in her memory.
That's all from me for this week - I hear the trolley beginning its rounds and it's time for our special 'renal diet' chicken burger, which is a welcome signal that our dialysis sessions are nearing an end for another day!