Having been diagnosed with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency at just six months old, Colm Costello from Ballinamore, Co.Leitrim was one of the youngest patients to undergo a liver transplant operation in Ireland in May 2007 when he was just 18-years-old.
Despite the disorder, Colm was able to live a relatively normal young life, although trips to Dublin became a regular occurrence for check-ups and biopsies in Crumlin Children’s Hospital. “There was no treatment they could offer me before the transplant”, Colm says.
One of four children, Colm’s family was rocked in December 1992 when his younger brother Mark passed away following complications with the same illness. Fortunately, his other siblings Liam and Emma were unaffected.
Having made it as far as his late teens without any major complications, Colm began to feel the effects of Alpha-1 in 2006.
“It was the year after my Leaving Certificate when I had the transplant. I did miss a bit of time in school and then I was working in my parents’ shop too. Around Christmas 2006 I remember I was having problems with swelling because I was on my feet so much.
“I was suffering with Jaundice and swelled up. I lost a lot of weight and muscle and faded away. Sometimes with Alpha 1, it affects the lungs and I suppose I was lucky in a way that it was just my liver.”
Colm underwent his liver transplant in May 2007, Colm illustrates: “I was relieved and happy. I was not worried though. I made so many different trips to hospitals from a young age, I was used to it.
Colm took to the recovery quite well and spent three weeks in Crumlin following the procedure.
“It didn’t take me long to recover but I do remember my muscles just went to nothing. Even walking up small steps took it out of me. My legs couldn’t carry me really so I had to build myself up.”
Now working full-time in Carrick-on-Shannon, Colm says he that without the kindness of a stranger he may not have survived. “They don’t tell you who your donor is but it’s something you think about. If it wasn’t for that person I may not be here today.”
To read this article in full click here. Well done to Colm on an excellent interview.
Organ Donor Awareness Week is taking place this week from 29th March to 5th April. If you are interested in becoming an organ donor you can get an Organ Donor Card by phoning the Irish Kidney Association LoCall 1890 543639 or Freetext the word DONOR to 50050. Donor cards may also be available in your local pharmacies.