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Mark Dobson: We're making good progress and we are closer than ever

In his weekly column, Mark Dobson, who received a kidney from his mum, former MLA Jo-Anne, speaks of their ongoing recovery and how she plans to be fit for the Belfast Marathon

Close bond: Mark Dobson with mum Jo-Anne
Close bond: Mark Dobson with mum Jo-Anne

It's frightening to think that we are now over three weeks after our surgery and, while still both taking it easy and recovering, we are getting stronger with every new day.

Mum is still absolutely determined to take part in the Belfast City Marathon on May 7 to raise funds to support kidney patients through her charity Kidney Care UK.

She's been out walking a little around our farm and, while no strenuous training has taken place just yet, she's as determined as ever to be there.

She's also set to do her first speaking engagement in her Kidney Care Ambassador role with the Banbridge Rotary Club next Tuesday evening at the Belmont Hotel in the town. She will be updating the members on our progress and I am sure the marathon might be mentioned as well.

This week I've been turning my thoughts to the future and what it now means for me to continue being a dedicated advocate for organ donation and transplantation while I'm post-surgery and no-longer on dialysis.

Calling myself 'Dobson On Dialysis', which has lived with me since last August, now seems a little outdated and, with your help, I'd like to look towards a new name.

If you have any helpful thoughts about how I could 'rebrand' myself, please pop me a direct message on twitter or email me at I would love to hear your suggestions.

We have been absolutely overwhelmed by the level of interest in our live transplant and it's been lovely taking the time to read through and respond to all of the messages of encouragement and support.

I haven't been out and about much just yet as I am currently on a high level of immunosuppressant medication which they are monitoring constantly.

When I arrived home from hospital, I had a big blue Belfast Trust bag full of all the different tablets which I need to take up to four times every day.

Just like I did following my first transplant in 2009, I need to continue a strict medication regime afterwards to help ensure that my transplanted kidney remains healthy and working - it's true, us renal patients do rattle when we walk.

Live donation is a huge step which I am so proud to say has achieved what mum and I thought impossible - it has brought the two of us even closer together.

Last week mum and I continued our regular twice-weekly appointments at the Belfast City Hospital. Meeting with our 'super-surgeon' Tim Brown and the superheroes at the Renal and the Transplant Units, we found out they remain delighted by our progress which is a huge comfort to both of us.

We also get the chance to chat and catch up with so many of our fellow patients while we are waiting on our appointment.

Just like Daisy Hill Hospital, which I will eventually return to once my regular appointments at Belfast come to an end, the Renal Unit has become like a home away from home for us.

As I look to the future of continuing to promote our journey and how people faced with renal failure can return to as normal a life as possible through a transplant, I once again encourage you to have that conversation with your loved ones.

There are many opportunities throughout the year, including last week which was Organ Donor Awareness Week in the Republic of Ireland, which bring organ donation to the fore. I want to continue to help in any way I can to encourage those conversations, and to bring comfort to people that hope can and will come through the selfless generosity of others.

A special thank-you to the Belfast Telegraph for enabling me to continue to promote that message of hope.

Belfast Telegraph


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