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A commemoration: 21 years of paediatric transplant in Ireland

By Denise Doherty - 03rd Jul 2024

Celebrating 21 years of paediatric transplant in Ireland was the core theme of this year’s Irish Nephrology Society (INS) Annual Scientific Meeting and a major highlight of the gathering, according to INS President Prof Donal Reddan.

Speaking to the Medical Independent, Prof Reddan said he was thrilled by the “fantastic turnout” from both sides of the border, as well as the “excellent quality of the talks and oral poster presentations” throughout.

“It was great to celebrate all the individuals and departments and the hard work they have done,” he said, “especially Dr Mary Waldron.” Dr Waldron, Consultant Paediatric Nephrologist, Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) Crumlin, received a special presentation in recognition of her exceptional contribution to children’s nephrology at the event.

Prof Reddan also expressed his delight at the guest appearance of former international rugby player Mr Brian O’Driscoll. The sports star, who is a “proud” ambassador of Temple Street, took the stage as part of a special dedication to paediatric transplant involving members and friends of the clinical team, as well as patients. “I’ve been very lucky over the course of the last 20 years to see the incredible work that has gone on there [Temple Street], the commitment of the doctors, nurses, and everyone that works tirelessly, often for less pay than you can imagine, and the job they do in saving people’s lives and putting minds at rest, especially the parents,” Mr O’Driscoll said.

Prof Atif Awan, Consultant Nephrologist, CHI, who chaired the session, acknowledged the “effort of the whole team”, and paid tribute to donors and their families for “the transformation to the lives of these children”.

“It’s an honour and a privilege to look after these children. I’m a proud member of the team. We’ve done 159 transplants in Temple Street and the results and success of these transplants are on par with international standards. We are always working to do research and improve quality-of-life and graft survival for these patients.”

A former CHI patient and two-times transplant recipient spoke about his “accidental diagnosis” of stage 3 renal failure at eight years of age and his time as a paediatric patient. He emphasised the effect Prof Atif and other staff members had by “putting my parents and myself at ease” throughout his patient journey and said he has very fond memories of the entire team.

“I distinctly remember going to my appointments when I was aged between eight and 10. We would travel for four hours to get to Temple Street, my parents would walk me to the office and Atif would ask if I wanted them in the meeting. Of course, I would say no. Atif would talk to me as a normal adult, not dress it up in any way, and tell me exactly what was happening, and when it was happening. A lot went over my head, but I felt I could take charge and he really eased me…. Having that sense of responsibility from a young age allowed me to take charge of my health long-term.”

The former patient then told delegates his personal experience of receiving a transplant in childhood, and a second kidney in adulthood. “It was an amazing experience,” he said about the first transplant, adding that “the recovery went well”. His first kidney survived for 10 years, after which he spent two years on in-centre haemodialysis, before receiving a living donation from his wife.

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Medical Independent 9th July 2024

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