Sallyanne And Derry Clarke Urge People To Discuss Organ Donation And Light A Candle For Donors
Michelin star restaurateurs Sallyanne and Derry Clarke, the parents of a 16-year-old deceased organ donor, met with seven-year-old Tomás O’Dowd, a kidney patient. They joined Lord Mayor of Dublin, Hazel Chu, for a photocall at the Christmas tree outside the Mansion House, in December 2020. They came together to highlight the Irish Kidney Association’s Christmas awareness campaign, which is supported by Organ Donation Transplant Ireland. This campaign aims to encourage families to take time out over the festive season to discuss their organ donation wishes and light a candle for organ donors and the 2000 plus people in Ireland with organ failure.
Over Christmas, Sallyanne Clarke will feature in a national radio advertising campaign reminding families that grateful transplant recipients will be lighting candles over Christmas to remember those organ donors and the families who have selflessly donated their loved one’s organs. This gesture is also in support of more than 2000 people suffering organ failure and over 500 people currently in the transplant pool waiting for life saving heart, lungs, liver, kidney, and pancreas transplants.
In the radio advert Sallyanne urges families to discuss organ donation and how ‘organ donation saves lives’. She explains how donating her son Andrew’s organs which saved three lives “was the right choice for my family as we had honoured his wishes”.
Amanda O’Dowd from Dunquine, in Kerry, mother to Tomás, came straight over to the Mansion House from Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin. Tomás and his father Denis, were at two different Dublin hospitals, Temple Street and Beaumont, that day for tests as part of the screening process to determine if Denis might a suitable living kidney donor for Tomás. Amanda said, “A transplant will completely transform Tomas’s life and will bring to an end the ten-hour nightly dialysis which he has been receiving for the past three years”.
Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu said, “I am pleased to support the Irish Kidney Association with this hugely important campaign. Organ donation is an integral part of active citizenship and it is beholding on us all to have the family discussion and show our support to those who are waiting on an organ transplant list. I’ll be reminding my family at Christmas time about my wishes to be an organ donor and a candle will be lit in the Mansion House”.
Sallyanne Clarke and her Michelin starred celebrity chef husband Derry of the award winning l’Ecrivain Restaurant pledged their support of the campaign to honour their son Andrew’s memory. Andrew was just 16 years old when he passed away New Year’s Eve 2012. Although grief stricken with the loss of their only son, they made the profound decision to donate his organs. Sallyanne said, “Andrew and the entire family had discussed organ donation years before his untimely death. He had discussed it in school too. It is tragic for any parent to lose a child but we take solace in knowing that our beautiful Andrew gave the ‘gift of Life’ to three people and, by doing so, spared three families losing their loved ones. We know that a little part of him lives on helping people. We urge all families to discuss organ donation at this time”.
Irish Kidney Association’s Chief Executive Carol Moore said, “there are over 2000 people in Ireland with kidney failure and Tomás is just one of more than 500 patients who are currently on waiting lists for organ transplants including heart, lung, liver, kidney and pancreas. It is thanks to people like Sallyanne and Derry, with their selfless generosity, in a time of great personal tragedy, who continue to make the ongoing life-saving work of organ transplantation possible. Families of deceased organ donors can be assured that over Christmas all around the country grateful transplant recipients will be lighting a candle in their honour. We have all taken measures to protect each other from Covid-19. In these unusual times, each and every one of us can also consider others by having the family conversation about organ donation.”
Amanda O'Dowd explained, "Tomás is our beautiful miracle child. He was given little chance of survival in my early pregnancy scan, but he defied the odds. He is a happy child despite his health setbacks and being hooked up to a dialysis machine every night for ten hours at a time. He is in senior infants at school and really loves it. Tomás has been receiving dialysis treatment for three years but only recently entered the transplant pool as he had to reach a certain weight and size to be considered for a transplant. Several members of our family were screened for suitability and after initial screening both Denis and I were considered a likely match. They are both going through the final stages of rigorous testing for living donation. If this fails our only hope will be that another family, at a time of huge sadness, have the foresight and compassion to think of others and consider organ donation and that Tomás might benefit.”
Tomás’s parents would like to acknowledge their gratitude for the care he receives from Consultant Mary Waldron and other medical and nursing staff at Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin and to the transplant teams at Temple Street Children’s Hospital and Beaumont Hospital who are managing the living organ donor screening process.
Individuals who wish to support organ donation are encouraged to keep the reminders of their decision available by carrying the organ donor card, permitting Code 115 to be included on their driver’s licence and having the ‘digital organ donor card’ APP on their smartphone.
Organ Donor Cards can be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050. You can also visit the website www.ika.ie/get-a-donor-card or download a free ‘digital organ donor card’ APP to your phone.
The public are encouraged to support the work of the Irish Kidney Association and can Freetext KIDNEY to 50300 to donate €4. They can also donate through the Irish Kidney Association’s website https://ika.ie/make-a-contribution/