Belfast Telegraph

Jo-Anne Dobson and son overwhelmed by goodwill after kidney transplant op

By Allan Preston

Now home safely after donating a kidney to her son Mark, former MLA Jo-Anne Dobson has thanked thousands of well-wishers for their support after her "roller coaster of emotion".

The smiling mother and son posted a picture on social media yesterday as they begin the slow process of recovery.

Mrs Dobson said she was "absolutely overwhelmed" by the kind messages after the operation on Tuesday.

Devoted Northern Ireland fan Mark missed out on attending Saturday's 2-1 victory over South Korea at Windsor Park, but his patience was rewarded with a new away shirt.

Speaking on Saturday, Mark said: "I was gutted I wasn't able to make it to Windsor Park but I watched the match on my laptop while looking down from the Transplant Unit on Floor 11, Belfast City Hospital!"

Earlier in the week, Northern Ireland international Niall McGinn voiced his best wishes to Mark in a video message.

Speaking to BBC Radio Ulster on Friday, Mark spoke of the emotional moment he was reunited with his mum after surgery.

"My mum came in and gave me a big hug and I just started crying because I knew we'd got through the transplant," he said.

"My surgeon Tim Brown said the transplant couldn't have been more perfect.

"We'd like to thank him, that's two times he's really saved my life."

On doctor's orders, Mark will need to take things easy for the next three months with regular hospital appointments.

"It will be 12 weeks before we get our life back but it'll be worth it," he added.

Mrs Dobson said she felt honoured she was a positive match for Mark as a kidney donor.

"There is that uncertainty that not everyone who goes forward to be a live donor is capable. It's a lot of very rigorous tests, almost like a full MoT on your body," she said.

"For me personally I was praying, not that I would get through surgery, but that I would be able to do it.

"I honestly do feel it's an honour and feel very privileged to have been able to do it for my son."

She continued: "It's just those experiences, it's a roller coaster of emotion, from going into theatre, crying and hugging Mark before they wheel me down and knowing he'd be following me a few hours after.

"It's life-changing, but very surreal with the mixture of emotions. The most powerful, between Mark and I, is very strong anyway.

"If that can be reinforced any more it was, there's definitely no feeling like it to be able to give your son life a second time."

With her son facing kidney problems since he was a baby, and previously going through a failed transplant, both are now committed lifelong campaigners for organ donation.

"It's important to remember every single one of us has it within us to be a life saver, whether it's telling your family your wishes or being a live donor," Mrs Dobson said.

"I can now speak with even greater authority of what it's like. It's like giving birth all over again - it's a wonderful, wonderful feeling."

Belfast Telegraph

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