Farmer who had kidney transplant urges donor conversation

A part-time beef farmer from Co. Westmeath who has had a kidney transplant has urged people to have a conversation with their families about organ donation.

Eddie Flood from Killucan is also the national treasurer of the Irish Kidney Association (IKA). He has a hereditary kidney condition – Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) – and he and two of his brothers have received kidney transplants. Their mother died at the age of 65.

Eddie was diagnosed with PKD in 2007, shortly after presenting to his doctor with high blood pressure. His condition was monitored and carefully managed with medication, dietary and lifestyle changes but he commenced dialysis less than two years later which he continued with for 28 months until he underwent his transplant in May 2011.

My eldest was 15 and my youngest eight at the time. Without that transplant, they wouldn’t have had a father. We are all extremely grateful to the donor’s family. I think of that person every day and send a letter to them through the organ donor transplant team. I also plant a tree every year in the donor’s memory.

“When I came home from hospital, there was a sense of guilt that someone else lost their life to save mine but you just carry on which is what their family wanted. We have an annual service of remembrance which will probably be a virtual one this year, and it is emotional, with a roll of honour placed around the church.”

Two of his sons have the same PKD condition, but it hasn’t progressed and they are still in good health. As a transplant recipient, Eddie has been very careful and looking after himself during Covid-19.

“I am lucky with where I am living as I am fairly self-sufficient. I go out in the jeep to look at the cattle but I don’t engage with people and my family has been very good in obeying all the rules,” said Eddie.

Sold farm

Having sold a substantial farm and given up his full-time job with South Dublin County Council after the transplant, he went into part-time farming.

“Everyone knows you won’t make money out of a small farm but it keeps me active mentally and physically and it was great to have it through lockdown,” said Eddie.

His voluntary work with the IKA also keeps him busy. “We have had 18 Zoom meetings since lockdown.”

While Eddie accepts that donating a loved one’s organs can be a big decision, he is appealing to people to discuss their wishes with their next of kin.

“It is a major decision to make in the throes of tragedy but a lot of people do make that decision. It allows something good to come out of a terrible situation. The new driving licences allow a box to be ticked on the issue. Organ donation has allowed me to see my children grow up and last weekend my sons did a cycle in Westport to raise awareness.”