Co. Louth man Gus Goss, who works for Cookstown Dairy Services in Ardee, has been given a second chance at life after receiving a kidney donated by his wife a year ago.

The transplant operation took place at Beaumont Hospital on April 26, 2021.

After experiencing swelling in his hands and fatigue, Gus went to his general practitioner (GP), Dr. Paul O’Reilly. After blood samples were taken, an appointment was made to see Prof. Peter Conlan in Beaumont.

“I was told that my kidneys were failing and that I would need a transplant. I was devastated and in total shock,” said Gus.

He was referred to the renal clinic to learn more about dialysis, where he had an appointment with a dietician and was put on a renal diet which involved cutting out processed foods.

“I also got counselling. That approach helped me to stay off dialysis for another 12 months,” he said.

“In 2020, I had to go on dialysis for eight hours a night, seven days a week. In the beginning, I found it hard but then because it was taking all the toxins out of my system, I had more energy during the day and was able to continue working from home during Covid-19.”

Kidney transplant

The issue of organ donation had been raised by Prof. Conlan during his initial meeting with the couple.

“I asked him if I could go ahead and be tested,” said Gus’ wife, Catherine.

“He arranged for blood tests to be taken. At the end of July, 2019, I got word that I was a match but that was only the start of the journey,” she added.

“I was invited by the transplant team to attend an all-day medical assessment in October 2019. From those tests, the team prompted me to attend for further appointments.

“I had MRIs, CT scans and other tests which went into October 2020 as, with Covid-19, some appointments were extended.

“The team wanted to be sure that I was healthy enough to donate,” she added.

Catherine had a social worker who advised her to avail of counselling.

“I didn’t think I needed it but it helped me with both the transplant and Covid-19,” she said.

“I was also advised to lose some weight to help with the operation and recovery. I took it slowly and lost a stone and a half between 2019 and the week of the operation and it did help with recovery. I have been advised to try to continue to keep the weight off.”

The final decision came from the team in December 2020 after Catherine confirmed that she was happy to donate a kidney. In January 2021, she met the surgeon and the date was set for the operation.

“It was arranged twice before that but was postponed due to Covid-19. We didn’t mind – we were content to work alongside the team and knew that they were looking after us,” she said.

The couple said they weren’t nervous.

“We were so happy that the transplant was going ahead and we had total trust in the team. We also got great support from the Irish Kidney Association team,” said Catherine.

“My operation took place around 9:00a.m and Gus was taken in around 12 noon on the same day.”

“It went very well and from the minute I received the transplant, my kidney function was marvellous. My energy was back within days,” said Gus.

Catherine went back to work after four months and Gus is preparing to return to his job soon.

They are keen to highlight the importance of organ donation, which noted, as a process, can begin with the Irish Kidney Association.

“There is nothing to be afraid of. The care and attention I got from the team was excellent. I would do it all over again,” they said.