Belfast Telegraph

Jo-Anne Dobson in good spirits after giving son kidney

By Victoria Leonard

A former MLA who donated her kidney to her son in a transplant operation yesterday was said to be "in good spirits" last night as she recovered in hospital.

Brave Jo-Anne Dobson yesterday gave her son Mark - who turns 25 next week - an early birthday present by selflessly donating one of her own organs, after the young man endured months of dialysis.

It's understood surgeons told them they were "very pleased" with how the procedures went.

Since August, Mark has undergone three gruelling four-hour sessions of dialysis every week, as the pair went through a long series of demanding medical tests to ensure that Jo-Anne's kidney would be a perfect match.

Mark had a previous transplant in 2009, and last night gave a "thumbs up" from his hospital bed after his latest life-saving surgery, performed by surgeon Tim Brown.

A family friend said that early indications were that the operation had been a success.

"They are both conscious, both recovering from major surgery, and Jo-Anne is drinking peppermint tea," he said.

"The surgeons are very pleased with both operations - it all went as planned and there were no hitches.

"At this stage it seems to have been a success.

"The surgeons are delighted - and Jo-Anne and Mark are delighted too.

"Jo-Anne went down at 8.30am and Mark at 12.30pm and he only came back up to the ward at about 7.30pm.

"They are still a bit groggy, but Mark was giving a thumbs up from his hospital bed!

"They are being well looked after by staff, who are keeping a close eye on them."

The timing of the transplant operation is particularly poignant, with Mark set to celebrate his 25th birthday next week.

"They have been on a long journey with dialysis since August, and Jo-Anne is relieved to be able to do something to help Mark," the friend continued.

"He will be 25 next week, so this is an early birthday present - it's the icing on the cake. He will be able to begin a new life.

"Jo-Anne's husband John, Mark's dad, is at their bedsides and the family are delighted that everything went perfectly."

Tweeting from her hospital bed ahead of the surgery on Monday 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 was also upbeat before the operation.

On Mothers' Day, he penned a touching online tribute to his beloved mum.

He wrote: "On Mothers' Day I'm sending all my love to Mum!

"She's preparing to donate a kidney to me to release me from a life hooked up to my dialysis machine."

Yesterday, on the morning of the surgery, he added: "LOVE you Mum, you are making my dreams come true this morning!

"Mum's just gone down to surgery to donate a kidney to me - I'm heading down around lunchtime!

"Thanks for all the lovely messages of support."

And in his latest Belfast Telegraph column, where he has been documenting his medical journey, he stated: "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."

See Life, page 25

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