Tipperary Rose of Tralee remembers her late Mayo grandfather who lost his battle with kidney failure

Clonmel's Laura Durkan is supporting the Irish Kidney Association's Organ Donor Awareness Week.

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Clonmel's newly crowned Tipperary Rose of Tralee is aiming to increase organ donor awareness while honouring the memory of her late grandfather from Mayo who lost his battle with kidney failure six years ago.

Clonmel pharmacist Laura Durkan (26) was delighted to win the title of Tipperary Rose at a Rose of Tralee event, which was held in Thurles over the Easter weekend at the beginning of Organ Donor Awareness Week. She will represent her county and the Irish Kidney Association at the Rose of Tralee International Festival in August.

“I’m absolutely thrilled and feel honoured to have been selected as the Tipperary Rose while representing the Irish Kidney Association and for my timely selection at the beginning of Organ Donor Awareness Week. I hope that I can use my profile in this international competition to raise awareness about the plight of people in organ failure and the undisputable benefits of organ donation and transplantation, while honouring the memory of my dear grandfather Paddy Durkan from Ballybeg, near Ballina. I have received lots of encouragement in this goal from my parents John and Anne Durkan, my sister Grace and brother Jack as well as my employer Pfizer in Kildare and of course the Irish Kidney Association who I represented in the competition," Laura says. 

Tipperary Rose Laura Durkan with her sister Grace and parents John and Anne. 

Laura has seen first-hand the benefits of organ donation in her role as a locum pharmacist in the community. "I have witnessed the impact of organ failure on patients’ lives, including a colleague of mine, and the transformational benefits some experienced through organ transplantation for all organs including heart, lung, kidney and liver.

“Closer to home and my heart though was my late grandfather’s kidney failure experience which has had a profound impact on myself and my family. Six years ago, my grandfather Paddy Durkan, whom I was very close to and loved dearly, passed away in his eighties following over a decade of three times weekly dialysis treatment. We are grateful that the dialysis treatment kept him alive for so long. However, towards the end it took its toll and he became very sick and just didn’t have the physical or emotional will to continue the arduous treatment with its side effects, which in the final months left him without any quality of life. He passed away peacefully two weeks after his final dialysis treatment. The medical and nursing staff who cared for him in Castlebar were outstanding in their knowledge, compassion and care for him throughout his dialysis journey," Laura continues. 

Laura says it's heartening to hear that the number of people who received organ transplants last year has increased. "This can give hope to all those people who are languishing on waiting lists, and their families, hoping that they will be called for a life-saving transplant. While sadly my grandfather did not get a transplant I hope that other families who have an elderly relative waiting for a kidney transplant can take heart in knowing that senior age doesn’t have to be a barrier to organ transplantation. I understand that a number of older people were among those who underwent transplants last year including many in their seventies and even one in their early eighties. I would encourage everyone of all ages to discuss organ donation with their family and let their wishes be known,” Laura says. 

Clonmel's newly crowned Tipperary Rose of Tralee Laura Durkan.

Laura reiterates her excited about taking part in the Rose of Tralee International Festival. "I hope I can do my county, my family and my late grandparents, Paddy and Mary, and the festival organisers proud, while at the same time supporting the Irish Kidney Association in the work it does in caring for kidney patients and their families as well as its promotion of organ donation through the organ donor card,” she adds.

Organ Donor Awareness Week is organised by the Irish Kidney Association and supported by Organ Donation Transplantation Ireland, and runs until 7th April.

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