Eileen's life transformed after kidney transplant
A KIDNEY transplant saved the life of Eileen Hayden, the courageous Bunclody woman who has had to endure the tragedy of watching five brothers die from the rare genetic disease she constantly battles.
Eileen lives with a condition called amyloidosis, a rare disease which currently only affects four other families in Ireland.
'I could have won the lottery as easily as getting this condition,' said a philosophical Eileen, who has seen five of her brothers, Billy, John, Patrick, Noel and Jim, predecease her from complications with the disease.
Her other brother, Brendan, who lives in Australia, became the first person in the world with amyloidosis to receive a kidney and liver transplant simultaneously. Only her brother Martin has succeeded in evading the rogue genetic condition which sees gene proteins attack soft organs of the body.
At 62 years of age, Eileen, from Knocknalour, Bunclody, is currently living a fun and fascinating life which has brought her on expeditions to Australia and all over Europe with her partner Robert Fisher.
It's a far cry from her life in the late 1990s when she first went on dialysis to help her survive the condition, and was ultimately left wheelchair bound.
'I was on dialysis for eight years, and they were eight long years,' she said, adding that at one point she felt she'd never come off the donor list.
Eileen was diagnosed with her condition in her thirties but it was in her forties when the symptoms really started to manifest themselves, and in 1998 she required serious dialysis.
'I thought it would never happen. When we went on the donor list we were told to always have a bag packed and ready to go. After eight years, when I was called everything was missing from the bag,' she laughed.
Since the transplant, Eileen has happily retired her wheelchair and is enjoying a full quality of life.
'Last year I got to go to Australia, and we've been all over Europe in Robert's camper van.'
'The kidney transplant absolultely changed my life. I can't be thankful enough to my donor and my donor's family.'