Irish mum donates kidney to save her four-year-old son's life
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Irish mum donates kidney to save her four-year-old son's life

It's Organ Donor Awareness Week!

To mark the occasion, an Irish mum has spoken about donating a kidney to save her four-year-old son's life.

Helen Turley from Castleknock, Co. Dublin, donated the organ to save her desperately ill son Hugo, now 7, three years ago.

Little Hugo was diagnosed with chronic renal failure and renal dysplasia after he arrived four weeks premature on December 20, 2010.

The youngster had a tube fitted to his stomach and was PEG-fed for the first couple of years of his life.

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When he turned two, Hugo began living on an intense regime of 50 hours of dialysis per week, and had a hearbreakingly poor quality of life.

His parents put themselves forward as donors and tests showed that mum Helen was a near-perfect match.

After months of waiting, the family finally got a call from Beaumont Hospital in Dublin to say their surgery was confirmed.

Both parent and child are now on the other side of the transplant in great health, something Helen hopes will inspire more people to register as donors.

Speaking on Ireland AM this morning, Helen said: “You are working so long to get to this point, you can see light at the end of the tunnel.

"It’s your child, so why wouldn’t you?

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“I had another daughter, she was eight months at the time, but you don’t think of the negative you just think about the positives, his quality of life would be so different and I was a near perfect match.”

Helen went on to have another baby and last year ran a marathon to raise funds and awareness for kidney transplants, insisting she was proof that being a donor didn’t stop you from doing anything you wanted.

She said that Hugo's life today couldn't be more different from what it was like before the surgery, when the toddler was dangerously unwell and on dialysis.

Helen added: "He's gone from strength to strength."

As part of Organ Donor Awareness Week, Irish families are being encouraged to talk to each other about organ donation and keep the reminders of their willingness to donate visible by carrying an organ Donor Card.

Speaking at the 2018 campaign's launch yesterday, health promotion minister Catherine Byrne revealed that 2017 was a record year with a total of 311 transplants from 150 donors in Ireland – a huge improvement on previous years.

She said: "The Living Kidney Transplantation Programme continues to go from strength to strength. Living donor transplants increased from 33 in 2015 to 51 last year; up nearly 50% in the space of two years.

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"I want to particularly thank the donors of the living programme for their huge generosity in giving the opportunity for life-changing transplantation to their loved ones."