It’s 6:40am. My phone is ringing. A delivery driver maybe? I don’t answer! Then Tim’s phone is ringing. Exclamations. “It’s the same number as mine. Answer it,” I say “Yes, this is Tim O’Leary, Diarmuid’s father.” I hear one other word: “Kidney.” Tim continues answering questions. I jump out of the bed and leap across the landing to Diarmuid’s room. Of course, I’m crying.

“Diarmuid, Beaumont have a kidney for you!” I expect him to jump up. Instead, he pulls himself into a seated position and slowly gets out of the bed. That’s when the realisation strikes. D can’t leap into action. His body is exhausted from trying to function on dying kidneys.

I give him a hand and, finding energy from somewhere, he makes his way to the bathroom. Downstairs, Julie is crossing the hall.

“Did you hear there’s a kidney for D,” I whisper loudly. “I did. Get going Mum.” Tim is on the phone telling Colm to take over our farming world. I tell Julie to ring Philip.

I had expected this call but I’m still not ready. I’m stumbling, blinded by tears. I grab D’s bag and stuff a few things in a bag for myself. Tim has D’s tablet boxes. D is already in the car, calm and still. Tim has the engine running. I run back to grab my runners. Then we’re off. ETA according to the satnav on our phones is 10.30am as agreed with Beaumont.

I’m shocked and so glad that we are together. We haven’t eaten breakfast which is ideal for D who needs to be fasting. Our lives with D are churning through our minds. The enormity of what is happening, the difference it will make to D’s life, to all our lives, the possibility of the kidney not being a match. I try to still my thoughts.

Incident on the m7

The ETA on the satnav is rising: 10:35, 10:40, 10:57. This had played out in my mind for years. I had my plan made a long time ago. I’d ring my cousin Garda Sergeant Niall Daly. A further 1 hour 30 minutes is added on to our journey – an incident on the M7. I ring Niall. He answers promptly. I explain. Calmly he tells me to ring 999, look for the gardaí and then the traffic corps at Dublin Castle. Give them our location and the number of the car. Within minutes, there is another call: “Garda Ciaran O’Mahony is waiting at Exit 17. Flash him and he’ll pull out. Stick to him.” We see the blue lights flashing!

Hill street blues

What followed was like something out of Hill Street Blues. The three lanes of traffic were solid and barely moving. With lights flashing and siren blaring, cars, vans and lorries fell apart. When they didn’t, Ciaran was flying up the hard shoulder.

We travelled in silence, stomachs churning and trying not to distract Tim from the difficult task. That went on for several kilometres. Then we were on open road and travelling fast.

Niall was back on the phone, so was Ciaran. He’d fall out and the motorbikes would take us through the city. I was crying again. Seamlessly, Ciaran fell out and signed off.

We were to stick with Garda Mark Connaughton on the lead bike. The other three bikes would clear the road – gardaí Fiona Moran, Dave O’Connell and Louie Phillips. They were already doing their magic.


Despite the tension, it was a spectacular trip. The skill of manoeuvring, the commanding presence and professionalism of this DMR roads policing team based in Dublin Castle cannot be exaggerated.

We arrived at Beaumont Hospital’s front door at 10:18am. I got out of the car with jelly legs and a dizzy head. I extended my hand in gratitude. We went in the door and were ushered to St Damien’s ward by a security guard.

It was surreal. Would D’s transplant go ahead? The new kidney was a good virtual match. The tests and tissue typing began. We were acutely aware that the donor had died and that a family was grieving.

That part of the story is extremely profound and upsetting. We genuinely struggle with it.

We are filled with gratitude towards the person who in life decided to gift their organs so that other’s lives may be changed forever.

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