A Letterkenny mum is honouring the gift of life she received through organ donation by running a mini-marathon this summer.

Organ Donor Awareness Week 2019 began with a park run for Clíona Marley.

The 45-year-old mum of three was given the gift of life almost 5 years ago when she was offered a donor heart to replace her own, which was failing fast.

Clíona was born with a congenital heart condition, which deteriorated when she was in her late thirties. She underwent a heart transplant in the summer of 2014 after spending 180 days in hospital, away from her husband Paul and her family, being kept alive by a heart pump.

Cliona Marley and her daughters

After a challenging 5 years since her transplant, Clíona’s strength and fitness have returned and she has decided it is time for her to give something back.

Clíona is a big fan of the Letterkenny park run, where she wears the Irish Heart & Lung Transplant Association (IHLTA) t-shirt to raise awareness for Organ Donation.

And this weekly 5k is part of her training for participation in the VHI Women’s Mini Marathon.

A team of over 20 women – friends and relatives from all corners of Ireland are joining Clíona to complete the marathon in Dublin on June 2nd 2019 in support of IHLTA.

And she keeps her past illness and her three daughters at the forefront of her mind as motivation to keep moving forward.

Clíona said: “Three weeks ago, on a cold morning with fresh snow on the ground, I briefly considered reneging on my decision to complete the park run. Then my mind took me back 5 years when I was confined to bed in the Mater Hospital, far away from my 3 little girls and attached to an intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) to keep me alive. I was waiting to live or die and my time was short. Thanks to my donor, I got to live. I promptly jumped at the chance to get out in the cold fresh Spring morning (snow or not!) and honour the gift my donor and their family so selflessly gave to me.”

Cliona Marley

Cliona’s three girls resting after the parkrun

This week marks National Organ Donor Awareness week, a time to remind individuals to talk to their families about their organ donation wishes and keep the reminders of their decision available by carrying the organ donor card permitting Code 115 to be included on their driver’s licence and having the ‘digital organ donor card’ APP on their smartphone.

Currently, the number of people waiting for transplants in Ireland is approximately 550. 

Clíona said: “I can’t stop thinking that someone else is in the position I was in 5 years ago, lying in bed, away from family and friends and waiting for the Gift of Life. This thought has prompted me to raise much-needed money for The Irish Heart & Lung Transplant Association (IHLTA) to fund equipment, training and research and to help raise awareness for Organ Donation which can change many lives immeasurably.

“Please have the conversation about Organ Donation with your families.”

To support Clíona and her team in the Dublin VHI Women’s Mini Marathon and to follow their progress see: https://vhi-women-s-mini-marathon-2019.everydayhero.com/ie/the-gift-of-life