A young Donegal woman said she will be forever grateful for a kidney donation which saved her life at 14 years old.

Elizabeth Ferry (33) from Falcarragh finally got the chance to thank her donor family last year for the greatest gift. A gift that has allowed her to live a rich life of travelling, falling in love and pursuing her dreams.

Elizabeth was just 13 when she fell ill with ESKD (End Stage Kidney Disease).

The shocking diagnosis came a year later.

“I was sick for a year before and went back and forth to doctors until one day my mum insisted on a blood test. The next day I got a call to bring an overnight bag to my local hospital and within hours I was transferred to Temple Street and began dialysis,” Elizabeth explained.

What followed was a tough six months on dialysis 6 nights a week for 11 hours each time.

For a 14-year-old, living in a world of uncertainty around her health, the illness was draining, as Elizabeth was confined to her room.

But in May 2002, the call came that would change Elizabeth’s life and bring immense relief to her family.

A match had been found.

“My mum and I made our way from my home in Donegal to Beaumont Hospital where I had some more tests before my operation.

“I can’t describe in words how grateful I am to my wonderful donor.

“I have travelled to so many places around the world and lived, worked and travelled in Australia and New Zealand for 4 years. Something I had always wanted to do but thought it would not happen when I became sick.

“With the help of my amazing renal team here in Ireland I was able to go and continue my check ups and care as I did.”

Elizabeth Ferry has been able to travel to Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand and USA to name a few, all thanks to her donor

Elizabeth is sharing her story ahead of Organ Donor Awareness Week to let others know that you can still live your best life, travel, see the world and do what you dream of after a transplant.

In 2019, Elizabeth married to husband Peter Conboy, from Ballygar, on the Galway Roscommon border. Instead of wedding favours, the couple made a donation to the Irish Kidney Association and every guest’s place setting had an organ donor card.

After numerous attempts to write a letter to her donor, on the 18th anniversary of her transplant last year Elizabeth finally finished the letter and sent it to her donor family last year anonymously via the organ transplant coordinator.  

“I am forever grateful to them for allowing me another chance at life,” she said.

Elizabeth and her husband Peter

The Irish Kidney Association (IKA) looks forward to celebrating the annual Organ Donor Awareness Week 2021 with over 60 public sites around the country being lit up in green from Saturday, 27th March until Saturday, 3rd April 2021.

Whilst many things have been put on pause during the Covid-19 pandemic, the need for organ donation and transplantation continues. Despite the unprecedented challenges which the pandemic has presented, organ transplants have continued thanks to organ donors and their families and also the dedicated transplant teams in our transplanting hospitals, Beaumont, St. Vincent’s, The Mater and Temple Street. 

At any one time in Ireland there are between 550 and 600 people on waiting lists for organ transplants including heart, lung, liver, kidney and pancreas. 

This year’s awareness campaign is built around the theme #Life is a Gift Pass it On and Share your Wishes. The key message is that the public can play their part in supporting organ donation for transplantation by ensuring that their families know their wishes. i.e., have the conversation #HaveTheChat 

Heart transplant recipient Cliona Marley from Letterkenny features in this year’s organ donor awareness week poster

Individuals who wish to support organ donation are encouraged to 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. 

Organ Donor Cards can be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050. You can also visit the website www.ika.ie/get-a-donor-card or download a free ‘digital organ donor card’ APP to your phone.