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Heart transplant patient Paul given second chance at life

Story by Noelle Finegan

Tuesday, 1st April, 2014 4:25pm

Heart transplant patient Paul given second chance at life

Paul O'Hare from Navan who underwent a life-saving heart transplant in 2012.

Two years ago, Paul O’Hare from Navan underwent a life-saving heart transplant that gave him a second chance at life.
Paul (34), from Clusker Park, suffered a heart condition called cardiomyopathy which affects the muscle of the heart. His condition deteoriorated to such an extent that he spent six months in hospital before he got the call that a suitable heart had been found for him.
Before his transplant, Paul did not know if he would live or not and he was approximately seven months on the transplant list. He was one of only 10 people who underwent a heart transplant in 2012.
Paul’s brother, Eugene, had a heart condition and sadly passed away, aged 26. It was at that time that Paul was tested and it was discovered that he had cardiomyopathy. He was just 17 years-old when he was diagnosed.
At the age of 22, Paul had a defibrillator fitted and, six months before his transplant, he had to have another fitted.
Up to the age of 16, Paul loved to play sport but when his heart condition was discovered, he could no longer play.
His condition really began to affect him when he was around 28 and Paul recalls that he was “tired all the time and couldn’t really do anything”.
In 2011, Paul was admitted to Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown, and spent six months there before receiving his transplant. It was a very difficult time for Paul, his wife Elaine and their three children, who are now aged 15, eight and five.
Paul said he could get out during the day but he had to return to hospital at night to be hooked up to equipment to keep his heart going.
He recalls the day he got word that a heart was available for him. “I had been six months in hospital and was getting ready to go home. Elaine was trained up that morning to change the syringe and I was being handed my prescription when I was told,” he says.
Paul underwent his operation in March 2012 and within two weeks he was at home. The difference to Paul’s health was “immediate”.
He says: “The difference is unbelievable. I can do everything now. I can go for a walk or a cycle, things I could never have dreamed of. I used to get tired even thinking of doing them.
“I usen’t to think I’d see my children grow up and now I can look forward to them getting married.”
Organ Donor Awareness Week, organised by the Irish Kidney Association, takes place this week, from 29th March to 5th April.
Paul is very grateful to his donor and family for giving him a second chance at life. He is urging people to become donors, saying simply: “I wouldn’t be around without it.”
During Organ Donor Awareness Week, forget-me-not flower emblems will be on sale throughout the country by Irish Kidney Association volunteers.
Last year was a record year for organ rransplants in Ireland - 294 organs were transplanted compared to the previous record of 275 in 2011.
There are over 600 people in Ireland awaiting life-saving heart, lung, liver, kidney and pancreas transplants.

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