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Joe Brolly: 'I would donate a kidney again tomorrow if I could'

The Derry star is recovering from a failed kidney donation and believes more Irish people need to volunteer as donors.

Joe Brolly (right) with Colm O'Rourke earlier this year.
Joe Brolly (right) with Colm O'Rourke earlier this year.
Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

FORMER DERRY STAR and well-known GAA pundit Joe Brolly has spoken today about the failed kidney donation he made to his friend Shane Finnegan.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, Brolly insisted he had no regrets about taking the decision to donate.

“I’d known Shane for about a year and a half, since he came on board as coach of the under tens in St. Brigid’s. He clearly wasn’t well, but he kept it all very quiet.

“Then one day at training he said ‘I haven’t told you this, I’m seriously ill, I’ve got kidney failure and I’m on dialysis’.

“I told him I’d give him a kidney even though I knew it was a long shot that I would be a match. All his siblings had been tested but I was elated when I found out I was such a strong match.”

However, the transplant failed after a small clot developed in a vein leading out of Finnegan’s new kidney. Slowly starved of oxygen, the kidney died.

“99% of these operations are successful. We were just very unluckly to be in the 1%,” said Brolly.

Asked if he had any regrets regarding the procedure, Brolly said he didn’t have to be asked twice.

“I saw Shane rejuvenate. It was like ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ in reverse because Shane went from a yellow to a pink complection almost immediately and was able to go to the toilet for the first time in six years.”

On transplants in general, Brolly is convinced an opt-out system would be more effective than the current opt-in one.

“It’s just such a terrible waste of life. If more people filled out donor cards, or became living donors, less people would die.”

Brolly has almost made a full recovery from the procedure but the same cannot be said for his friend.

“The clock is ticking on Shane. The reality is he urgently needs someone to put their hand up and donate. Otherwise, he will die.

“I would do it again tomorrow if I could.”

If you would like to become an organ donor, you can either request a donor card online or contact the Irish Kidney Association in the following ways:

Email: donor@ika.ie
Free text: DONOR to 50050
Lo Call: 1890 543 639
Post: Freepost, Donor House, Irish Kidney Association, Park West, Dublin 12

Alternatively you can collect a donor card from your local pharmacy or sign the back of your driving licence to indicate your wishes.

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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