Katie McAlevey from Drumcar and her Dad, Matt who has suffered from kidney failure and needed two kidney transplants, the latest of them just last year. Katie is raising funds for the Irish Kidney Association instead of presents for her 18th birthday. Photo: Andy Spearman.
Most young women look forward to a big celebration and an abundance of presents on their 18th birthday but Katie McAlevey from Drumcar, who celebrated her coming of age amid pandemic restrictions on Sunday 11th October, has a totally different birthday wish.
Katie’s Dad, Matt, has needed two kidney transplants in his lifetime so, instead of partying and presents, Katie wants to raise as much as she can for the Irish Kidney Association (IKA) and has created a Facebook fundraiser page so people can contribute.
“I am just grateful to be able share my 18th with my family and especially my father whose quality of life has improved considerably since his (latest) kidney transplant last year” she said.
Katie, who is a world champion Irish dancer and the oldest of three siblings, is the daughter of publican Matt and Nurse Ciara McAlevey.
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“My father has had two kidney transplants in his lifetime” Katie explained. “His first was when he was 30 years old before he married and it lasted eighteen years, the same length of time that I’ve been alive!
“His first transplant was a success for a long time and even, though it eventually failed, my family are very grateful to his first kidney donor for giving him a life-line and eighteen good years to enjoy life, get married, run a pub and have a family” Katie said.
Matt’s second transplant took place in May 2019 thanks to another selfless organ donor. During the six years before this transplant he had to attend the Beacon in Drogheda three times a week for dialysis.
“For most of my teens my father has been struggling with his kidney failure and even though he managed to keep running the family pub in Castlebellingham, he had very little energy and poor quality of life.
“Even when he was having a difficult time, he still made the effort to travel around with me and my sister as we competed in dancing competitions in different parts of the world, organising dialysis treatment wherever we would go.
“He also was on the side-lines to support my younger brother when he played football. He helped raise €4,500 for the IKA through fundraisers he ran in the pub while he was on dialysis.
“I am proud of my father for the way he has lived with his kidney condition and I am also proud for the families of his two donors.”
"Our family would like to express our appreciation to Jackie and the staff at the Beacon in Drogheda for taking such good care of my dad when he was receiving dialysis treatment and also to the transplant and nursing team at Beaumont Hospital who took care of him when he received his transplant."
“When he got his transplant last year, I could see that the difference in him straight away, it was like night and day. He has a much better quality of life now. We are making the most of having him stay at home with us. He has much more energy now and his complexion looks so much healthier now also.
“Unfortunately, after Covid lockdown, he had to close the business because of all the restrictions on pubs as well as the fact that as a transplant patient and immune suppressed he must be extremely careful.”
Katie and her sister Holly (16) are both world dancing champion medallists from the hugely successful dancing Scoil Rince Mona Ni Rodaigh.
This year would have been their 10th year to take part in the World Dancing Championships which would have taken place in Ireland were it not for Covid 19.
Katie is in her final year of school and is torn between nursing and primary school teaching when she leaves.
“The one thing I do know is that were it not for organ donation my father may not be here and I felt very fortunate to have him around to share with me in celebrating my birthday”.
To make a donation to Katie’s appeal please click on to her Facebook page
Organ Donor Cards can be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050.
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