Global praise for Tyrone mum who donated a kidney to ex-husband
A woman who donated a kidney to her ex-husband says she has been left astonished by the support from well-wishers across the world.
The inspirational story of Tyrone woman Sharon Traynor, who gave a kidney to ex-husband Peter after he suffered from a degenerative organ disease - sparked an outpouring of goodwill when it was reported in the Belfast Telegraph earlier this month.
The transplant took place just three days before Peter's 44th birthday and, on the eve of their separate operations in Belfast City Hospital, full-time mum Sharon said she was "excited" to be able to help her ex-partner.
She said the illness had devastated their six children: Cora (23), Chelsea (22), Michaela (21), Dean (18), Cormac (14) and Molly (8).
The pair were discharged last week and Sharon (40) said both operations were a success and had been truly life-changing for Peter.
She said: "It has given him a second chance at life.
"Peter's kidney function went up from 6% to 49% in three days which was unreal.
"He's up walking about. He's a better colour.
"All is great. Everything went straightforward and the hospital was more than pleased.
"We're just thankful that everything went well.
"We're over the moon that the kidney has actually reacted so well.
"After all, it wasn't from a sibling or immediate family."
Speaking ahead of World Kidney Day today, which aims to raise awareness about kidney health and encourage donations, Sharon insisted she would do it all over again if she had to.
"I'm not going to lie, I was really sore the day after but if I had to do it again, then I would," she said.
She revealed that along with the messages from well-wishers, there was also people who were flabbergasted that anyone would 'sacrifice' one of their vital organs to help someone they were no longer romantically involved with.
"A lot people on Facebook have said, 'You're mad, it's your ex' - but my opinion is that everybody deserves a second chance, no matter what," Sharon added.
"I'd like to think Peter would have done that for me if we were in different circumstances."
She also implored the public to look at the bigger picture and think of the lives that could be transformed through donations in Northern Ireland.
"No matter what circumstances you are in, you are saving somebody's life," she added.
"My children could have lost their father."
Her heartfelt words come as the province was hailed by Northern Ireland's chief nursing officer as leading the way in kidney donations.
Some 2,400 transplants have taken place over the past 50 years - with 661 of them made by living donors.
Professor Charlotte McArdle said: "We are very lucky in Northern Ireland to have a truly exceptional transplant team and we are also extremely lucky to have the highest number of living kidney donors per head of population across the world.
"I would like to mark World Kidney Day by saying a huge thank you to all those who have donated.
"This is the absolute greatest and kindest gift that anyone can give and can totally transform the lives of people."
Echoing the professor's sentiments, Sharon insisted: "If some person comes forward and donates a kidney for somebody waiting on a transplant, then it's a bonus for us because it means our story is making people stop and think about these things.
"I want to send out the message that it doesn't matter what circumstances you are in, you should stop and think.
"It's worthwhile saving somebody's life."
Sharon revealed their story has even reached across the Atlantic thanks to a friend.
"She put up a post online about it and she's said it's gone viral over there with a lot of commenting, saying that girl's amazing for doing what I did.
"A lot of people can't believe that somebody would do that for their ex-partner."
Sharon said the only reason she is sharing her experience is to promote live donation.
"We all walk around with two kidneys.
"And you only need one to survive.
"If I can cope without it, then why can't other people?" she asked.