Ex-MLA Dobson donates kidney to son Mark
Brave mother Jo-Anne Dobson will today give her son a priceless gift when she goes into the operating theatre at a Belfast hospital to donate one of her kidneys to him.
The former MLA's son Mark has been on dialysis for months as the pair went through a long series of tough medical tests to establish that her kidney would be a perfect transplant match.
Since August, Mark has been having three four-hour sessions of dialysis each week.
Tweeting from her hospital bed last night, Jo-Anne said: "In the morning Mark and I place our lives in the hands of a hero!
"An emotional night for us at Belfast City Hospital until a new day dawns and Mark receives new life from me for a second time as I donate a kidney to him."
Mark, who has been writing a diary of his medical journey for the Belfast Telegraph, was upbeat last night. He wrote in his latest column: "We have been admitted and are through all of our initial tests and with fingers, toes and everything else crossed are ready for what tomorrow will bring.
"It means the world to me that Mum is giving me a new lease of life - free from dialysis and free to live once again."
It is not Mark's first transplant, but he is very grateful for his earlier kidney in 2009 "thanks to the selfless generosity of a family I will never know".
His latest life-saving transplant surgery is to be carried out today at Belfast City Hospital by surgeon Tim Brown.
Jo-Ann will go into surgery first, at around 8.30am, and Mark will receive the transplant of his mother's kidney at lunchtime. As the countdown to surgery continued, Mark paid tribute to the skill of the medical team looking after him and his mother - and called on others to come forward to donate life-saving organs to those who desperately need them.
"We have a world-beating transplant unit in Belfast, wonderful miracle-working surgeons and staff and the most giving population in the world," said Mark.
"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."
Banbridge farmer Jo-Anne served as an Ulster Unionist MLA in Stormont until the most recent Assembly election.
Last night the party's leader, Robin Swann, was among many who sent messages of support as she prepared to go under the knife to save her son's life.
"I wish Jo-Anne and Mark well," he said.
"She has been a champion for organ donation for as long as I have known her.
"This is an unbelievable act of love between mother and son and I hope the operation is a total success, and that they both have a speedy recovery."