Power of organ donation as Athlone native’s personal decision saves lives

RONAN FAGAN

With transplantation and the saving of lives very much the theme of Organ Donation Awareness Week, presently ongoing, an Athlone man proved true to this particular ethos when, following his death, a decision to donate his lungs, liver and kidneys extended the lives of three persons in much need of the vital organs.

Five years ago, Patrick Cassidy, 47, a native of St. Anne’s Terrace, suffered a brain aneurysm following a heart attack and sadly died. Fortunately, for those lives he subsequently saved, the Army Sergeant was the proud holder of an organ donation card.

Speaking to the Athlone Advertiser, his wife Yvonne, who spoke at a CAOGA in the Defence Forces - army, naval service and air corps - organised ceremony in partnership with the Irish Kidney Association to mark the beginning of Organ Donor Awareness Week, noted that while she and her three children were suffering in their grief, the decision taken by Patrick to donate his lungs, liver and kidneys, would extend the lives of others, was a consolation.

“At the time of Patrick’s death, his decision to organ donate was of some consolation, as we tried to make sense of the situation in which we were suddenly placed. The doctors asked us if we would consider donating his organs and we were all unanimous in our decision to do so,” Fiona reflected.

Married for 22 years, the couple often spoke with regard to organ donation and when their children, Rachel, Jessica and Cian, were of an age, it was a topic of conversation within the home.

“Patrick was a blood donor and would always encourage our children to adopt a similar attitude, feeling strongly as he did with regard to the issue,” Yvonne remarked.

Now residing in Paulstown, Patrick spent 26 years in the Defence Forces, the last two of which he served at James Stephens Barracks in Kilkenny City. Prior to this, he had served in the Chief of Staff’s office on Infirmary Road.

Reflecting on the ceremony which took place in McKee Barracks, Yvonne spoke of her pride of being asked by the Irish Kidney Association to address the gathering present.

“It was an honour and a privilege to be asked by the Irish Kidney Association to speak at the ceremony and highlight the ethos of Organ Donor Awareness Week and Patrick would have been extremely proud, being a strong advocate of organ donation. During his final days and in our darkest moments as a family, we took solace in knowing that he helped others through organ donation,” Yvonne commented.

As Organ Donor Awareness Week reaches its conclusion, Yvonne would encourage families to have the all important organ donation discussion.

“It is all about awareness. Ensure you have that conversation with your family members. From personal experience, it is wholly comforting to realise that you have carried out your loved one’s organ donation wishes should you ever be placed in the situation,” Yvonne emphasised.

The focus of Organ Donor Awareness Week which culminates tomorrow is to remind individuals to talk to their families about their organ donation wishes and keep the reminders of their decision available by carrying the organ donor card, permitting Code 115 to be included on their driver’s licence and having the ‘digital organ donor card’ app on their smartphone.

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