Emma's story

Emma Treanor, 36, from Newry has had two kidney transplants. She received her first transplant when she was 14 years old in April 1998 and her second in November 2011.

Emma is sharing her story to highlight the importance of organ donation.

“Before becoming unwell I was a normal teenage girl. I attended school at St. Paul's High School, Bessbrook, I was always very sociable, loved playing with friends, very girlie and just loved life.

“In April 1997 I was 13 and in second year at school when I started to become very fatigued and I lost my appetite. After multiple visits to my GP, the blood results confirmed that I had chronic kidney disease and needed urgent dialysis, and I was placed on the organ transplant waiting list.  It was very scary getting this news for both myself and my parents.

“We were all afraid of the unknown; it was a big shock and a great adjustment to make to our lives.

“However because I was young, I just got on with it. I never missed a day off school; I got myself disconnected from my dialysis every morning and headed off to school. 

“I was on the list for nearly a year; I got three calls within that time. On the 22 April 1998 a kidney became available and the operation at the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children was a success.

“The only thing I knew about the donor was that she was an 11 year old girl who had died in a road traffic collision. I will always be thankful to her for the gift she gave me and to her parents for being able to make the decision to donate her organs at such a tragic and painful time.

“Unfortunately 13 years later when I was aged 28, the kidney began to fail. This time the medical team advised that a living donor would be the better option for me.

“All the family got tested including my husband Ben. My brother John and sister Kerrie were the best match, but John stepped up and he did brilliantly. I will be forever grateful to him.

“We both were very anxious and apprehensive, we all went out for a family meal the night before the operation and there were very few words amongst us. John and I were admitted to level 11 Belfast City Hospital the night before the operation and I can remember my dad shaking my brother’s hand before he left.

“The next morning it was all systems go. On 11 November 2011 my brother gave me the best gift, that of his kidney.

“In despite of all this, my illness did not hold me back in any way. I went on to pursue all my hopes and dreams. I studied nursing and I am now the Deputy Ward Sister in the Cancer Centre in Belfast and I got married to Ben.

“Life has changed for the better. I live a very active lifestyle, exercise and socialise but none of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for my donors. I feel very special that someone out there made the choice to donate their organs, and that decision was supported by their family at a very difficult time in their lives. But in doing this they gave me the gift of life.

“It’s important that if you want to be an organ donor, talk to your family about your wishes, as they will give final consent. It’s the biggest gift anyone will ever receive.”