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Presentations from Madhatters

Sean Forde, from Emyvale but now living in Monaghan, spent four and a half years travelling three days per week to the Renal Dialysis Unit in Cavan, a round trip of 62 mile. This was his lifeline and necessary for his wellbeing and, though extremely difficult and arduous, especially during the Winter months, he had to accept it as part of his weekly routine and way of life. However it was not just himself who was inconvenienced but his family too as all family activity had to be planned around his need to attend Cavan Dialysis.

When the call came for him to receive a transplant in August 2009 he did not have much time to consider what it would mean as it was only a matter of hours before he was on the operating table in Beaumont Hospital undergoing the transplant procedure. Indeed the enormity of what had happened did not sink in until a couple of weeks afterwards as his strength returned and his body began to respond positively to the transplant.


After his discharge to home, the freedom of not having to go for dialysis was bliss. Little by little he was able to return to a more normal lifestyle and planning to do things became much easier. With this enjoyment of life came feelings of gratitude. His thoughts were with his donor and the family. He remembered his days in Cavan Dialysis Unit and the great attention he got there. He recalled the wonderful and expert staff in Beaumont Transplant Unit. Without all of these and his family and friends he could never have gained a new lease of life.


Now one year later Sean, with his family and friends, is pleased to be able to present some funding to both Cavan and Beaumont as a mark of his appreciation. A number of other transplant recipients and patients on dialysis participated and helped out with this fund-raising venture. Sean and son, Adrian, presented a cheque for €2,900 to Marie Sheridan, Clinical Nurse Manager and Dr. Yasir, Medical Registrar, of the Renal Dialysis Unit in Cavan. A cheque for €3,200 was presented by them to the Beaumont Transplant Foundation, where it was accepted by Dr. Magee, Consultant Nephrologist and Ms Aileen Counihan, Transplant Unit Co-ordinator.

All of this money was the proceeds of a Madhatters Tea Party, which Sean, with family and friends, organised in the Hillgrove Hotel, Monaghan, recently. It was a great success and the local business community were very generous with their sponsorship. A full list of these was issued on the night. Sincere thanks to Colm and Audri Heron of the Hillgrove Hotel, who were the main sponsors, and thanks to all who attended and supported the event. Gratitude is also expressed to Margo, Jackson Cage, Gene Bannon, and Claire Kerley for their special input. The competition for the ‘Best Hat’ was plentiful as both sexes vied with their head-bearing creations. Judge Brenda O’Reilly Hughes had a very difficult task and in the end a number of prizes were presented to reward the winners for the effort and work involved. Thanks to all who entered the competition and to Judge Brenda.


Speaking to Marie Sheridan after the presentation we discovered that patients are treated in Cavan Dialysis Unit every day Monday to Saturday. There are ten stations and three sessions every 24 hours. However there is a waiting list for this service and it is hoped that an extra 8 stations will be provided in Cavan in the not too distant future. The project is in the planning stage at the moment and it is hoped that these might be in operation towards the end of this year. Local patients who are attending dialysis in Dublin will then be able to change to Cavan which will mean shorter journeys.

Marie also stated that the demand is growing as the incidents of renal failure increase. Diabetes and high blood pressure are two of the main causes and she would advise everyone to keep these checked on a regular basis. This can be done by having simple tests carried out by the GP. The majority of the patients attending Cavan Unit are elderly but there are a number of younger patients too. Transplant is not an option for some but many from the unit have received transplant. Again there is a growing demand and Marie would advocate the donor card system.


Regarding the money presented by Sean, she said this was very welcome and would be used to provide extra patient comforts like TV in the extended unit and other things that will improve conditions for those who attend for dialysis. She said that donations like this are always of great assistance to them and they receive many donations from patients and their families. She was delighted to see Sean in such great form and thanked him sincerely for his work and thoughtfulness.


Dr. Magee expressed sincere appreciation to Sean and Adrian for the donation to the Transplant Foundation in Beaumont, which is the only kidney transplant unit in Ireland. About 150 Kidney transplants are carried out each year and for many patients this is the most appropriate form of treatment as it can improve their survival and greatly improve their quality of life. The unit is struggling with the imbalance between the number of patients waiting on the list for transplant and the number of organs available. Ireland is not alone in this but Beaumont is trying to increase the number of ‘living donor kidney transplant’ and ‘none heart beating donors’. They are anxious that the public be aware of the importance of donation when the issue arises with their loved ones. The donation presented by Sean Forde will fund educational activities for patients and some research projects for the benefit of kidney transplant patients in Ireland. Times are difficult at the moment and donations are not as plentiful but when they do come they are greatly appreciated and he expressed the gratitude of the unit to Sean for his energy and initiative in raising these monies and donating them to the Foundation.

Sean himself was delighted with the venture and hopes that it has raised dialysis awareness among the public and of the need for constant checks on diabetes and blood pressure and the extraordinary life-giving gift organ donation is.