'When the opportunity came, I didn’t hesitate': Garda gives life-saving kidney to fiancée

Shane Hunter with his fiancée Briona Reynolds after he donated a kidney to her. ‘The transplant has opened up so many more opportunities for us, now we can plan what comes next,’ said Briona.

A woman whose Garda fiance donated a life-saving kidney to her has said that they can now finally plan their future together.

Briona Reynolds, a 28-year-old education graduate from Tubber, Co Offaly, underwent life-saving surgery to give her a new kidney on June 22 as the country’s transplant system kicked back into gear.

It was a case of ‘third time lucky’ for Briona, who had seen operations cancelled in February and March as the coronavirus crisis took hold across the country. That had meant a course of dialysis treatment while she waited for the health system to recover sufficiently for her surgery to take place.

Now, just two weeks later, her recovery is actually moving at a greater pace than that of Shane Hunter, her donor and partner of 11 years, as she returns to a level of health she has not known for five years.

“I suppose the last three months have been quite hard because you had this constant unknown about your future,” she said.

But now the transplant has opened up so many more opportunities for us, now we can plan what comes next.

While organ transplants can prove troublesome after significant periods of time, the initial signs for Briona are very positive.

“The telltale signs are there that things have gone well,” said Shane, a 29-year-old garda from Athlone.

“Her kidney has started working, so we’re very optimistic. Down the line there could be problems, but as it is now, it’s working 100%.”

Briona acknowledges that the transplant is even more meaningful as it came from the man she will marry, the wedding being set for next July in nearby Mount Druid.

“We’re looking forward to it, and I’ll be pretty much a year post-transplant too, so it’ll be an anniversary too,” she said.

The couple shared their story in the hopes of inspiring others to think about organ donation.

“It’s something everyone should talk about with their family,” said Shane.

“It’s not something I had ever imagined doing. But when the opportunity came, I didn’t hesitate.”

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