Belfast Telegraph

We're doing great, says Jo-Anne after donating a kidney to her son

By David Young

Just three weeks after donating one of her kidneys to her son, big-hearted Banbridge mum Jo-Anne Dobson has said they're both feeling great.

The former UUP MLA yesterday posted a picture of her and son, Mark, meeting surgeon Tim Brown at Belfast City Hospital as the pair visited for post-operation blood tests.

Jo-Anne told the Belfast Telegraph last night that she had already seen a remarkable improvement in her son since he received his new kidney.

"Mark has been transformed," she added. "What a difference -his jokey personality has come back and he's not feeling sick and exhausted all the time as he did when he was on dialysis.

"But it's still early days, so fingers crossed that continues."

The mother and son still have to attend the hospital twice a week for six weeks, and after that once a week for 12 weeks, but the early signs are all good.

"Both of us are doing very, very well and the medical staff are absolutely delighted with out progress," Jo-Anne said.

"It's lovely to be almost three weeks on from the operation and the early indications of our progress are very, very good.

"But you know, sometimes things can happen... but at the minute the medics are very happy with the way things are going both with Mark and with me."

Mark has faced serious kidney problems since he was a baby, and had previously undergone a transplant operation that ultimately failed.

Belfast Telegraph readers have been following Mark and Jo-Anne's progress through Mark's weekly column in this newspaper.

Both he and his mum are now committed campaigners for organ donation, with Jo-Anne acting as the Northern Ireland ambassador for the charity Kidney Care UK . The former MLA said she'd had no trouble so far since donating one of her kidneys.

"You are nearly frightened to say anything - you don't want to tempt fate - but the medics are all really pleased with us so far," she added.

"I'm fine. A little bit tired, perhaps. I tire more easily, but the medics said that was too be expected and could last up to three months."

However, she's not letting anything get in the way of her work as an advocate for organ donation.

"I get messages from other living donors and people who are about to go through a transplant," Jo-Anne said.

"The messages have come in from come from right across the world.

"I don't know how they are finding us, but they are.

"They ask about our experience of the transplant process, and I try to ease their fears and put their minds at ease."

Jo-Anne, who has a family farm near Banbridge, is soon to appear at her first speaking engagement since the transplant operation.

She will give a talk at the Banbridge Rotary Club in the town's Belmont Hotel on the 17th of this month.

It will cover Mark's medical journey, right from when he was a baby through his first transplant and bringing things up to date with last month's living donor operation.

To many a post-operation patients that would be a daunting prospect. But for Jo-Anne? "I'm looking forward to it," she said.

Belfast Telegraph

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