The greatest gift you can leave behind

Posted on: 9th March, 2015

Category: Features

Contributor: West Cork People

There are over 600 people in Ireland awaiting life-saving heart, lung, liver, kidney and pancreas transplants. Worryingly, the number of organ donors in Ireland dropped by a quarter last year, making 2014 one of the worst in recent years for organ donations. Preliminary figures from the Organ Donation and Transplant Ireland (ODTI) shows that there were 112 kidney transplants from deceased donors in 2014 compared with 147 in 2013. The total number of organ transplants was 251 in 2014 compared with 294 in the previous year. Approximately 1,800 people are on dialysis.

Mary Egan (38) living in Ballinascarthy, a little village near Clonakilty in West Cork, is one of them. After suffering with kidney problems for years, the mother of three young children was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease in 2012, the same week she found out that she was pregnant with her third child. She talks to Mary O’Brien about life on dialysis and her hope for a future transplant.


In January 2014, Mary’s condition became life threatening; both her kidneys failed and she had to go on emergency dialysis. She is now on the live and deceased kidney transplant list.

Today, family life in the Egan household revolves around Mary’s dialysis machine, which since last October, she is fortunate to have in her own home. For four hours, four days a week, Mary hooks the line in her chest up to the machine for a session of haemodialysis, which removes toxins and excess water and cleans her blood.

“When something like this affects you, you appreciate life so much more,” says Mary. “You realise what you have to be grateful for…and it’s the simple things like being at home and spending time with my husband Tadhg and the kids and having the support of family and friends.”

Éabha (9), Leah (6) and Ben (2) chat to their mum about their day, do their homework or simply sit in companionable silence while Mary is on the dialysis machine. “I think it’s made us stronger as a family,” says Mary. “And my hope is that my children will be better and more empathic people in the future from going through this experience with me.”

Chronic Kidney Disease is a major life change that can cause a great deal of stress. Fatigue, loss of appetite, insomnia and dietary restrictions (high potassium and high phosphate foods have to be avoided and there is a daily fluid quota) is all a part of daily life. “I’m quite a positive person so the hope of getting a transplant and having to be there for my kids keeps me going,” says Mary. “I’m on call 24/7 and I have my bag packed.”

The focus of Organ Donor Awareness Week (March 28 – April 4, 2015) is to raise awareness about the ongoing and ever increasing demand for transplantation, which relies entirely on the public for organ donation.

“I’ve always been a believer in organ donation but it’s not until it comes to your own door that you really sit down and talk about it. And it is something you need to discuss with your family, as at the end of the day, whether you carry an organ donation card or not, it’s your next of kin that have the final say,” explains Mary.

Families need to talk amongst themselves and keep the reminders of their willingness to donate visible by carrying the organ donor card, downloading the Smartphone App and permitting Code 115 to be included on their driver’s license.

Organ Donor Awareness Week also serves as a fundraising exercise for the Irish Kidney Association. Throughout the week (March 28 – April 4, 2015), the Association’s volunteers will be out on the streets, and in shopping centres throughout the country, selling ‘forget-me-not-flower’ emblems, brooches, pens and shopping trolley discs. All proceeds will go towards the Irish Kidney Association’s aid for patients on dialysis and those patients fortunate enough to have received a kidney transplant.

The Irish Kidney Association charitable activities include the provision of a 13 double bedroom free accommodation facility for patients and their families in the grounds of Beaumont Hospital and holiday centres located in Tramore and Kerry, together with patient advocacy, advice, financial aid and rehabilitative, health promotion and the provision of kidney patient information and education.

“I’m hopeful,” says Mary “I’m also very aware that there will be an element of sadness too when I get that call, as our family’s gain will be another family’s loss. There really is no greater gift.”

Organ Donor Cards can also be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association LoCall 1890 543639 or Freetext the word DONOR to 50050. Visit website

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This Saturday the 10th March, will see some magically curious activity as local Bandon national schools compete in a Wizarding Harry Potter Quiz. The prize will be the beautiful Bandon Banshee Perpetual Cup.

As any Harry Potter enthusiast knows, Bandon has the unique honour of having a character named after the town. The Bandon Banshee, was referred to as the nemesis of Gilderoy Lockhart in the Chamber of Secrets. The book grossed €60 million in sales and was the 7th highest earning film of all time.

Locals, looking to enhance the town for young people, saw the quiz as an ideal way promote the connection. The universally absorbing book series brings young readers on a huge adventure of magic, adversity and triumph. It is also an exploration of loyalty and friendship, good and evil – so it is not only popular way to engage young people, it is a hugely positive connection.

Zoe Tennyson, one of the organisers said they were delighted with the response from schools who ran a qualifying quiz as part of World Book Day. On Saturday Bandon Town Hall will be transformed into Hogwarts Great Hall, with proceeds going Bandon Playground Group, and to cover costs of the event.

Bandon Books will be rewarding the winning team with vouchers to each of the five members. The Bandon Banshee, or Bean-sidhe na Bandaan Perpetual Cup will be hotly contested – but which school will the Banshee go to??

If you have any questions please call Marguerite McQuaid on 087 900 9494
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8th March, 2018  ·  

Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition 23 February 2018

The inaugural Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition will take place in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen this Friday 23rd February. As part of Engineers Week 2018, leaders and members of Ballineen Foróige Club have organised an exhibition which will showcase a diverse and exciting range of engineering projects that have been undertaken by members of the club over the last few weeks, with the aid of leaders and a number of local engineers.

With the aid of local pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, along with the support of STEAM Education, a UCC based company focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths subjects in primary schools, Ballineen Foróige has been engaging members and leaders in all things engineering over the last six weeks. From researching, designing, and prototyping a project based on local problems, to participating in various workshops on coding and careers in engineering, Ballineen Foróige have been extremely busy in preparation for the exhibition this coming Friday night.

On the night itself, Michael Loftus, Head of Engineering at CIT, Fintan Goold, Manager at Eli Lilly and All-Ireland Cork winning Footballer, along with Geraldine Coughlan of GCA Architects & Designers, a local business, will act as judges on the night, evaluating the different engineering projects and offering some advice to the members of the club. Also in attendance will be the CEO of Foróige Seán Campbell, along with a number of local councillors, TD’s and Senators.

Leading the team of Ballineen Foróige leaders organising the event, is Rebecca Dwyer, a bioprocess engineer at Eli Lilly. Rebecca recently became a leader in the club and says that Ballineen Foróige Young Engineer Exhibition 2018 “promises to be a fun, challenging and rewarding experience for all involved and we look forward to welcoming parents, relatives, friends and members of the public to the exhibition and film screening on the evening of Friday 23rd February.” Overall, there are twelve projects entered in the exhibition. One project, led by Cian Kennefick and Charlie Nolan, members of the starting out club, examines the possibility of installing speed ramps on the road near local primary school. Fourteen-year-old Charlie says he got involved in the project as it was something to do and it gets you thinking. Cian says the most exciting part of the project was the building of the prototypes.

Both Cian and Charlie, along with thirty other members of the club will display their projects this coming Friday 23 February in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen. Doors open at 8pm and the event runs until 10pm. All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Catering, including tea and coffee, will be provided on the night.
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20th February, 2018  ·  

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17th February, 2018  ·  

Check out this new upbeat indie-folk track Edges, released today from Inni-K with a video by Myles O'Reilly. Inni-K will be performing at Levis’, Ballydehob on Saturday 24th February, with support from Sam Clague.
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