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Teacher makes Irish history with kidney donor keyhole surgery

Teacher Kate Mooney, who donated one of her kidneys to give her brother the gift of life, has earned a place in medical history.

Kate (28) from Griffth Avenue in Dublin became the first living kidney donor in Ireland to have the operation carried out through keyhole surgery.

Her brother Cathal (32) ,who suffered kidney failure a year ago, was transplanted with the organ during a four-hour operation.

The overjoyed duo, who underwent the operations on Monday, laughed and joked yesterday as Beaumont Hospital doctors expressed hope that others would be inspired to follow Kate's selfless act.

Keyhole surgery -- which differs from the traditional open operation -- allowed surgeon Dilly Little to make a smaller incision in Kate which can reduce recovery time to as little as two weeks compared with the usual eight to 12 weeks.

"If people know they can recover more quickly it will encourage more people to become living kidney donors," said the medic, who pointed out nearly 600 people are on a waiting list for a transplant.

A beaming Kate, who was delighted to see the quick transformation in her brother, said: "I feel well enough to go home today. I was even walking around on Tuesday."

Kate, who teaches French and Civics at the Margaret Aylward school in Beaumont Road, was in Thailand in June last year when she got the news that Cathal, an engineer, had been diagnosed with kidney failure. Cathal, who also works as a DJ, was immediately put on dialysis.

He said: "The doctors told me I contracted a viral disease called IgA Nephropathy as a teenager and it took years for it to impact on my system.

"During my twenties it was slowly getting worse and I did not realise what was wrong. Two years before I was diagnosed I was feeling nauseous and getting a lot of headaches. It was very hard to find out what was wrong. I thought it was my lifestyle and was treated for an ulcer.

"I did not realise how sick I was. It was only when I went on dialysis that I started to feel better. The treatment is very intensive, taking four to five hours a time three times a week. You are very tired afterwards and it interrupts your life. You can't travel and go where you want when you want."

Cathal was placed on the transplant list and thought he would have to wait for a donor organ from a deceased patient, expecting to wait years. But then his family stepped in and explored the chance of donating one of their own kidneys.

"I was reluctant when I heard about it because you fear if someone gives you a kidney they will be impacted."

Kate said family was tested and cousins volunteered also. "But they found that I was the best match," she said.

"Cathal said to think about it but I said 'I don't want to'. I learned in March I was the perfect match so everything got under way. We only learned last week they would remove the kidney through keyhole surgery.

"They explained there would be much less pain and the recovery would be much better. They told me I would not be able to play rugby or box but I was not that way inclined anyway. My lifestyle would remain exactly the same."

Parents Breda and Charlie kept vigil as their only two children underwent surgery.

Ms Little said the keyhole surgery reduced pain and risk of infection. "When our experience grows we can offer it to more patients," the surgeon added.

Belfast Telegraph