North Belfast family raise awareness of living organ donation as child waits for kidney match

A North Belfast family is raising awareness about living organ donation in hopes of finding a partner for their son.

David McKenna would make anyone smile – the nine-year-old is passionate about theater and the performing arts and is a weekly guest on local radio.

But while the youngster may seem like an ordinary child to most, he struggles with day-to-day health issues and on a number of medications and injections while also needing tube feeding and catheterization.

Read more: NI ‘opt-out’ organ donation legislation to be named Daithi’s Law

David was diagnosed at seven days old with 18 per cent kidney function, so his parents knew early enough that he would need a transplant – and so the family quickly discovered that his dad Jim was compatible.

Speaking to Belfast Live, his mother Elizabeth said: “They need the child to be a certain height and weight for a transplant, so at this stage it was a matter of getting him strong enough for the procedure. .

“He received the transplant in Belfast and he was the youngest child they had transplanted to Northern Ireland – he was four years old. Before that the children had all gone to England for their transplants.

“About nine months later the kidney started to reject and at that point we knew it wasn’t going to last the ideal 20 years. We knew the transplant was a form of treatment and he would need it. ‘another.

“One day it could be someone of yours. It could be your child. It’s only when you walk that you really realize. When my husband donated his kidney to David, he was at the city ​​hospital and David was in the hospital Children’s Hospital Jim had a kidney removed and was out of the theater at lunchtime and with us at Children’s Hospital the next morning He was makes it look easy!

“You can do something special while you’re here to see it. While it’s important that your loved ones know your wishes when you die, there’s also the possibility of seeing those benefits while you’re still alive.

“While deceased donor or pool are options, the ideal option is for someone to show up who is a match who can donate.”

The McKenna family is doing all they can to ensure David can attend what he loves to do – the Belfast School of Performing Arts, Singing Lessons and Cubs acting school.

David is a budding theater star

But these activities come at a price for the youngster, who will become more tired and weaker than other children his age.

“This kidney donation is intended to improve David’s quality of life,” Elizabeth added.

“A transplant for David, if all goes as planned, would ideally mean less medication, less illness, fewer hospital stays and appointments and more energy. He will still be catheterized, but he will will act to do the things his peers are doing at the same speed and ability.

“He’s not able to keep up to the minute. He has reduced hours at school because 9-3 is exhausting for him.

“David didn’t have the luxury of enjoying all the benefits of this transplant, so we are now raising awareness and appealing to the public. If we don’t get a kidney, he will be hooked up to a dialysis machine for at night 7 days a week or going to the hospital and getting dialysis three to four times a week for four or five hours straight Not ideal for a nine year old.

David with his transplant surgeon
David with his transplant surgeon

The majority of tests and investigations in the journey to become a living donor can be completed in one day, involving urine and blood tests, several CT scans, a chest X-ray and heart tracing and meeting with the consultant in the aftermath -midday.

Donate Life explains: “While our priority is always to ensure that the donation is as safe as possible for the donor, we can actually complete all of this in 2-3 months if necessary.”

For more information on organ donation and becoming a living donor, please follow this link.

Read more: A man who lost both his legs in a bid to ‘live with dignity’ in his Belfast home

Read more: ‘He’s my hero’: The special bond between NI father and son after kidney donation

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