Tall, lean, fit and 50, you would almost think that Seamus Kenny, manager of ABP beef plant in Lurgan, has never experienced a day’s sickness in his life.
However, Seamus is eager to share the fact that he is now very healthy and well with three kidneys, one donated just in time as his own pair were rapidly failing.
Seamus, who has been working in the Lurgan area for around 30 years, exudes passion for the pioneering paired organ donation scheme which has given him a new lease of life.
He was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease in 1997. However, it was no shock as his father had suffered from the same disease as do two of his sisters and a brother.
Having lived with the condition for many years, and with his kidney function declining at a rate of four per cent a year, Seamus, who is originally from Galway, was told he may have to face the reality of dialysis to survive.
“We went to New Zealand for a holiday thinking that we would never be able to have a holiday like that again because I might end up on dialysis and knowing its restrictions,” he said.
“There had to be intervention and there were two options, dialysis or a transplant,” said Seamus.
It can be a long wait in the dead donor’s pool and the longer the wait the more likely there will be health complications.
So Seamus and his wife Pauline explored how the live donor’s pool operated and Pauline offered to be a kidney donor.
Though she wasn’t a match for her husband, the couple subscribed to the pioneering paired donor scheme. It matches donors and recipients across the UK. Within months of signing up the pair were matched with another couple in England and last June they went through surgery on the same day at Belfast’s City Hospital.
Since their operation last June, Seamus has thrived and is passionate about the operation and donor scheme that has given him and another person a new lease of life.
He enthuses about the superb care at Belfast City Hospital and, as a testament to his appreciation, he ran a gala ball to raise funds.
As manager of the successful ABP Meat firm in Lurgan, Seamus invited his suppliers and customers to the event at Armagh City Hotel and thanks to their generosity last November, they raised £60,000.
The ABP Food Group owner Larry Goodman added another £40k to the pot so £100k could be donated to the Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund in the Renal Unit of Belfast City Hospital.
An avid biker and member of LAM Lisburn Advanced Motorists bikers club, Seamus hasn’t looked back and has around 70% kidney function.
“All you need is 25% to function normally,” said Seamus. “I am very, very lucky.”
His wife, a nurse and originally from Cavan, now has just one kidney and is also fit and healthy after donating her kidney.
“It gave me a new lease of life. I had myself resigned to dialysis but I had looked into options that I would have the dialysis every night through the night rather than three times a week during the day,” said the successful businessman.
Dr Aisling Courtney, Consultant Transplant Nephrologist said: “This incredible gesture will make a huge difference to improving the health of people with chronic kidney disease. Financial support is vital in enabling us to continue to conduct vital research, discover better treatment options, and provide the best care possible for individuals in Northern Ireland with kidney failure.”
Seamus Kenny said: “Pauline and I received extraordinary care in the City Hospital and I am certain this money will benefit manyothers with kidney disease. Thank you most sincerely to all hospital staff, my colleagues in ABP and all those who so generously supported our charity gala ball.”