A Co Longford father of four has spoken of how his life has been transformed by not one, but two separate kidney transplants.
Thomas Duffy underwent surgery for his second transplant in May 2013, more than 20 years after first going under the knife aged just 20.
This week, the Aughnacliffe native reflected on the second “gift of life” he has been given in the lead up to Organ Donor Awareness Week which starts this Saturday (March 28).
“I will always be grateful to the two donors,” he said humbly, his voice hesitating ever so slightly.
It’s a far cry from the uncertain and often emotional days of Thomas’ younger years when illness began to take hold.
At first, the softly spoken county council employee thought little of the gradual tiredness, sickness and fatigue ailments that have come to define much of his everyday life.
But when those symptoms worsened, culminating in his kidney failure diagnosis in 1985, Thomas knew a long, and arduous road lay ahead.
Dialysis treatment and gruelling round trips to Dublin followed before he underwent the first of his kidney transplants two years later. Then aged just 20, Thomas was probably safe to assume his darkest days were behind him.
And for a while they were.
“The transplant completely transformed my life and it lasted for 24 years,” added Thomas.
“Because of my first kidney donor I could travel to England soon after the transplant and I worked there for five years before returning to Ireland where I met my wonderful wife Catherine.
“We got married and now have four beautiful children. I was also delighted to be able to secure a job as a lorry driver with Longford County Council which is where I have worked for 18 years.”
Six years ago however, Thomas’ kidney function began to decline again, meaning another lengthy spell of dialysis treatment beckoned.
“It was very hard for my family. My wife had to look after everything and my children had to come to terms with their daddy being sick all the time.”
In the end, their prayers were answered when Thomas received his second kidney transplant in May 2013.
The best part of two years on, life for the Duffy’s couldn’t be much better.
“It’s changed my whole life,” Thomas maintained.
“ Organ donation is a wonderful gift; it changes everything and transforms so many people’s lives.
“For me, every day is a great day.”