Friendships and Transplants

Our last guest this week, Moyra Mae, has been with us since the beginning of the journey.  Organ donation is not just a medical issue.  It’s personal.  And not only for the donor and recipient…

To write a post for Organ Donation Week about my friendship with Lucia is intimidating to say the least. I have tried to keep it brief, but to still give my insight into the impact that organ donation can have on friendships.

I had the very lucky opportunity to be friends with Lucia since we were four years old. It’s very hard to describe or summarise any friendship but the complexities of a friendship with someone who had multiple transplants is even more difficult to put into words.

To me, Lucia was always my greatest friend. Despite the difficulties that she had with her health, Lucia was always so much fun, full of energy, the last one to leave the dance floor, the best advice giver and the most supportive friend you could think of.

Moyra Mae, Lucia and Cliodhna

I was friends with Lucia throughout her whole transplant journey. I remember the first time that she had to go off school and I first heard the term ‘liver transplant’. It was confusing as a young child, and I missed her a lot. When Lucia returned to school, we were all so excited and argued over who got to sit beside her in lessons. She told us all about the organ donor and we had a LOT of questions. But even with Lucia’s pretty comprehensive understanding, even at the young age of eight, I certainly did not fully understand the severity of liver failure or the gift that an organ donor and their family had given.

Lucia went in for her second transplant when we were ten. This was my first introduction to the transplant waitlist. It was hard to comprehend that Lucia needed a transplant, her eyes and skin were becoming jaundice, and yet she was still waiting. Regardless of how unwell Lucia felt, she was still able to go watch a ballet with me, dance, laugh and be a ten year old. Finally, after what felt like a very long time, she got her second transplant.

Lucia didn’t need her third transplant until we were sixteen. This time I understood more that Lucia was actually very sick and that a transplant was a serious procedure. However, Lucia still remained so positive and reduced my worries and fears. While Lucia awaited her third transplant, she began to campaign for organ donor awareness more and more. She even let us help out with a short video. A very unwell Lucia still managed to have endless patience with a bunch of silly sixteen year olds who couldn’t get their lines right. Once again, Lucia got the call that a donor had been found and she could receive a liver.

Throughout all these years and all these transplants Lucia spent a lot of time either in hospital or at home. We spent a great deal of time apart. This was difficult at times and involved a lot of phone calls and quick catch ups, but it taught me that if you have a true friendship, distance only makes you closer. It creates that magical relationship where no matter how long it’s been since you’ve seen them, the friendship is as strong and as natural as it has always been. This is how it feels for me now. Even though Lucia did not come home after her fourth transplant, our friendship remains.

Moyra Mae and Lucia 2

To say ‘thank you’ to donors and their families seems so insignificant compared to the huge opportunity that they offered to Lucia. It allowed her to achieve so many amazing things; carrying the Olympic torch, competing in World Transplant Games, meeting Michael Phelps, being awarded a BEM and starting the Live Loudly Donate Proudly campaign to name a few! But of course, on a personal level, I am so profoundly thankful to Lucia’s organ donors who gave me a best friend for so many more years.

So, this week, and every week, please have the conversation about organ donation.

Moyra Mae