Northern Ireland woman helps ill ex-husband ‘get his life back’ by donating kidney
An inspirational woman will today give her ex-husband the gift of life by donating a kidney to him three days ahead of his 44th birthday.
Sharon and Peter Traynor, from Co Tyrone, who separated three years ago, spent last night at Belfast City Hospital in preparation for their separate surgeries at 8.30am and midday.
Peter needs the transplant because he has a degenerative organ disease.
Full-time mum Sharon said she was "excited" about being able to help her former partner "get his life back".
Peter said he is "so thankful" to his ex for giving him "the chance of a bright future".
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph hours before Peter's life-changing operation, 40-year-old Sharon said she wanted the father of their six children to be around to see them grow up.
She added: "I'm not here for the starlight. When Peter first took ill a few years ago I was devastated and I wanted to help out in any way I could so I immediately put my name on the organ donor list. But then thankfully his condition stabilised.
"Suddenly he got the news that his kidney had deteriorated so much that he needed a donor or he would need dialysis.
"I volunteered, did all the tests and came back as a match and here we are.
"Everybody has two kidneys and they only need one. Even though we've split up, that doesn't matter to me. Everybody deserves a second chance in life, there's enough suffering in the world and enough people dying from illnesses with no cures."
Sharon, whose philosophy is "everyone should help each other if they can", said she "can't wait to see the difference in him" afterwards, and joked she's told him "this is all he's getting for his birthday".
"I have watched him go downhill health-wise and get really sick and it made me very sad to watch someone suffer like that," she said.
"It doesn't matter that we're not still together. People have told me that they think I'm mad for giving a kidney to an ex-husband and others have said they don't think their former partners would do it for them.
"There have been different views on it and I think some people are in shock about my decision but it doesn't bother me.
"I suppose it is kind of funny for an ex-wife to give the gift of life to her ex-husband."
She added: "Lots of people donate [organs] when they're dead but why not come forward and do it when you're alive because then you'll be able to see the positive results of what you've done? "
Sharon admitted that their children - Cora (23), Chelsea (22), Michaela (21), Dean (18), Cormac (14) and Molly (8) - are nervous about their mum and dad going through surgery on the same day.
But she added: "They're really proud of me stepping forward and helping their daddy out.
"It will give him another lease of life and they'll be able to hold on to their daddy and he'll be able to hold on to them."
Peter said he was "all ready" for the operation and revealed he's had a lot of backing online from his renal support group in Omagh, as well as friends who've been through the procedure.
"I'm a bit anxious, nervous and worried but I suppose that's normal," he said.
Acknowledging that he will have a new kidney in time for his birthday on Monday thanks to Sharon, Peter said: "You can't get much better than that."
He also paid tribute to his ex-wife's "amazing" act of selflessness and he recalled how she stepped in to offer help as his condition worsened and doctors told him it was time to start looking for a donor.
"When Sharon heard how ill I'd become, she just walked into the renal unit in Omagh and asked if she was still on the list to donate a kidney and it all went from there," he said.
Their story, first reported by the Ulster Herald yesterday, has been described as inspiring by hospital staff.
Peter said he developed health problems at the end of 2011 and by the time he was diagnosed with kidney disease doctors told him he had it for 18 months.
For several years he managed the illness with medication, but then he revealed that his "kidneys went in a downward spiral" which now brings him to "a critical stage, needing a donor".
"In another two or three months I'll have no kidney function; they'll pack up and, without a living donor, I would be facing years and years of dialysis.
"Sharon is a lifesaver. She knows I'm so thankful to her. At the end of the day she is saving my life and you can't do much more for anybody than that."