Northern Ireland football star McGinn cheers on Mark Dobson after kidney op
Northern Ireland international Niall McGinn has told a young fan who has just received a kidney from his mother that he hopes he will be well enough to cheer on the team come Saturday's match.
Mark Dobson is recovering well from the major transplant surgery on Tuesday, along with his former MLA mum and kidney donor Jo-Anne.
And now the 24-year-old, who can see Windsor Park from his hospital bedside, is already looking forward to Northern Ireland's big game tomorrow against South Korea.
In a video message to Mark, McGinn - who will miss playing through injury - told Mark: "On behalf of the Northern Ireland players I just want to wish you a speedy recovery.
"Hopefully everything goes very well and that you can tune in on Saturday and cheer on the boys."
A thrilled Mark responded on Twitter: "Thank you... along with all the messages of love to Mum it has kept us going as we recover from our operations. I'm still making it my goal to be there on Saturday."
A family friend said Mrs Dobson is due to be released today or tomorrow, with no decision yet taken on Mark's discharge date.
"Jo-Anne and Mark are both having their pain management reduced now. That's normal post-recovery and they're both beginning to heal," he said. "Both are getting plenty of rest and sleep at the moment."
Nurses guided Mark through his new drug regime yesterday, with immuno-suppressive medication helping his body accept the new kidney.
It's hoped the new organ will give him a fresh lease of life after enduring three sessions of dialysis every week.
"The nurses will do that with him each day to keep him right. Both of them are being very well looked after and closely monitored," the friend said.
"It's obviously that tender time of coming through that recuperation.
"Mark's got to be very careful in his recovery. He'll be attending the clinic twice a week for a few weeks with regular visits in the long term.
He continued: "They're a bit groggy but in very good spirits. The best news you can get for your recuperation is to be told by your surgeon that everything went pitch perfect.
"That really helps to understand the process, that's pretty major surgery yet everything went as planned."
Surgeon Tim Brown, who has carried out over 400 transplants, performed the surgery earlier this week.
"I'm very pleased to say that, to date, everything has gone according to plan," he said at the time.
"Kidney transplants can be complicated. In living donor surgery there's no room for complacency. We don't count our chickens."