In the news: Bernie Glynn
Bernie Glynn’s life took an abrupt turn when she was 27 years of age. Less than a year after her marriage to Galway man Albert Glynn, she began feeling tired, suffering from high blood pressure, a poor appetite and general malaise. After putting up with the symptoms for some time, she was eventually diagnosed as having end stage renal failure.
Despite the frightening diagnosis, Bernie and Albert faced the challenge head on and continue to enjoy their married life in the County Galway parish of Peterswell. They have a successful kidney transplant operation to thank for their continuing life together.
“The whole thing came on me very suddenly,” says Bernie. “We had only been married in December 1974 and it was 1975 that I began to feel unwell. It was a shock, just starting our lives together; it really affected us. It was a daunting thing to accept at the time, but we got through it, thank God, and now I am probably one of the longest survivors around.”
After recovering from the initial shock, Bernie began a period of haemodialysis in the summer of 1976 at Jervis Street Hospital in Dublin, but it came as some relief to move the treatment to their home near Eccles Street in Dublin. But even then it was far from plain sailing.
“We settled into the routine: three days per week for five hours at a time. It was tough, I was out of the hospital scene, but it wasn’t that easy, as there was not that much back up. But, thankfully, it went smoothly enough. Albert was a great help: he put in the needles and I did the rest. It took about eight hours in total, between set-up beforehand and clean up afterwards.
However, after three years of home dialysis, the time for a kidney transplant arrived.
“I thought the kidney machine would do its job, but it doesn’t last really. Towards the end, I was very unwell and the machine took its toll on my system. I was waiting for a miracle at that time, and I went on the transplant list.
“The call came in March 1979 early in the morning and I went straight into Jervis Hospital, where I was immediately brought in for the operation. I spent some time in intensive care and later in a kidney unit until I was finally discharged.”
Bernie feels she was “very lucky”, as she was on was a very high does of anti-rejection drugs.
“As I became stronger, I went back to work in 1980 about a year later. I continued to work for another 27 years in my professional career as a phlebotomist. It was a nice job - the work wasn’t too heavy - so it suited me, as did the longer hours.”
Organ Donor Awareness Week runs until this Saturday, 7 April and volunteers have been out selling Forget-me-not flowers as well as handing our organ donor cards. Bernie encourages people to think strongly about carrying one.
“Organ donation is a very important gift to give someone. It saves lives and changes lives. I am very grateful to my kidney donor, as he or she gave us a very special gift of life and always has a very special part in my thoughts and prayers. It really does change and transform lives.
“I would urge people to pick up a card this week and bring it home. Have a discussion with your loved ones about your wishes, which is very important.”
Of course, the week is also very important for the Irish Kidney Association. The money raised goes to funding the treatment and research of the condition and directly contributes to making patients’ lives better.
“In recent years, the association was able to buy a holiday home in Tramore, which is kitted out with the home dialysis kit. When you are on dialysis, it is almost impossible to get away for a break, but this makes it possible.”
At the time Bernie became sick, there was no Irish Kidney Association. It was in the early days of her illness that her husband, Albert, along with a few others, got together to create the charitable organisation.
The Irish Kidney Association are dedicated to meeting the needs of renal patients and their families and carers, living with and affected by end stage renal disease, so every penny they can collect goes to the care of a kidney patient.
“I retired from my career in nursing in 2007 after my 60th birthday and we moved back to Galway, as Albert is originally from here. I have a good quality of life, I have some great friends around here and we walk every morning in the mountains around Peterswell.
“The Irish Kidney Association does vital work for patients suffering through renal failure and patients on the transplant waiting list. Getting a new kidney saved my life and I am so thankful for it. My life began from there.”
To receive a free organ donor card, free-text the word DONOR to 50050. For more information, visit www.ika.ie.