I expected five more years of life, hoped for ten, but have had thirty-five and counting,’ says businesswoman Julie O’Neill of her 1982 kidney transplant
A London-Irish businesswoman last week celebrated her life-saving kidney transplant of 35 years ago with the donor, her brother, and the surgical team who carried it out.
Julie O’Neill owns the recruitment agency Cara Personnel. In 1982 she thought she might have extended her life by five years – for which she would have been truly grateful – after she received the kidney from her brother at the former St Paul’s Hospital on Endell St in Covent Garden.
But last weekend she marked 35 years of good health with a dinner for her transplant team, nephrologists, clinicians and family at The Hospital Club, a private member’s club occupying the building where the hospital once stood. It was there that Julie spent almost five years on dialysis until she received her kidney.
Her brother and donor Padraig Sammon, a Westport school-teacher, flew in from Mayo for the occasion.
The evening also served as a thank you and a reunion for medical staff, some of whom were involved in Mrs O’Neill’s care at the time of her diagnosis in 1978.
These included Corkman Professor Paul O’Regan, who worked at St Paul’s in the 1970s. Mr O’Regan is now a consultant at South Tipperary General in Clonmel.
Also present was Professor Guy Neild, Nephrologist at University College London and Consultant Dr Ansari, Nephrologist from King’s Hospital in South London.
They were joined by staff from Mrs O’Neill’s current hospital, the Royal Free, including Professor Sir John Cunningham.
“I never thought I would be here now,” she said. “I would have been grateful at that time for five years, and delighted with ten. I am grateful to the teams for their expertise. They have looked after me with great care and attention over many decades.”
Mrs O’Neill said a special thank you to Sir John and told him she was expecting him to get her and her kidney into the Guinness Book of Records.
During her speech she said she is always proud to fly the flag for the NHS.
“We always hear about the things that go wrong but not the ones that go right,” said Julie.
For further information on organ donation www.organdonation.nhs.uk