Matthew's heart and kidney story
“One week before Christmas in 2006 we brought our baby boy, Matthew, to a doctor in Letterkenny. We were terrified because he was so ill with diarrhoea. He wasn’t even one year old. We were transferred to CHI Crumlin and they told us he likely had Typical Haemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). It’s an infection that you allow to run its course and manage complications, so we stayed in the hospital with Matthew and celebrated Christmas there. It was so strange to be in the hospital for his first Christmas. But there were Christmas carols, there were elves around the wards cheering up children, and Santa still visited! On New Year’s Eve we got to go home and we were so relieved. But by the end of January it looked like Matthew had the same infection again. We went back to Dr Mary Waldron in Crumlin. He spent about 16 weeks in the hospital having plasma exchange treatments. I stayed with Matthew and my wife spent the week working in Donegal and the weekends in Crumlin. We had just bought a new home for our family and it was really tough going.
It turned out Matthew had developed Atypical HUS and his kidneys were under serious pressure so he also needed Hemodialysis and for a time was managed in CUH, Temple St. His heart became strained when he was receiving treatment for his kidneys and he was transferred back to the cardiac unit in Crumlin and for a time his heart was main focus of treatment rather than his kidneys. There was no other choice to keep him alive. It was one of the worst moments in our lives, having to make that decision. There was no good option – it was just the lesser of two evils. After that Matthew had regular plasma exchange, which cleans the blood and helps the kidneys. If he had a cold or a sniffle he needed plasma exchange more often. Every single time we left Donegal for Crumlin we would wonder when we’d see home again. It was very difficult on all of us, to constantly be on standby. We couldn’t relax, even for a second.
In 2012 Matthew took a turn and was put on dialysis for three years. About this time he went on a new drug which worked really well for him and he came off plasma exchange first then dialysis but stayed on call for a kidney transplant. We visited Crumlin once a fortnight for his new medication and it was wonderful. Then in August 2016 we got a phone call. There was a kidney waiting for him. We couldn’t believe it. We were trembling with excitement and fear. We got to Dublin that morning and he received his kidney transplant at CUH, Temple St.
We’re so lucky to have Matthew. His heart is doing great now and he sees the cardiology team once a year. He’s still on the drug for his kidneys every two weeks and is monitored closely too. Matthew is 12 now and it took us so long to get to this stage. He has a younger brother now, Adam, who is eight and it’s great for our family to spend less time travelling up to Dublin, and to enjoy happy moments together. We appreciate every single minute of it.
Dr Waldron in Crumlin went above and beyond the call of duty on so many occasions. One time in particular will always stick in my mind - while Matthew was in ICU she was by his bedside all night and when we arrived the next morning, the nurses told us she had just left. It’s dedication like that that always made us feel like our son was in the best hands and that he just wasn't a number on a file to be dealt with. They minded him like he was theirs.
We had some very dark times when Matthew was sick, but we were always lifted by way people did their jobs with such passion and pride. We knew Matthew was in the best place to get better. We were so lucky that Crumlin was there for us when we needed it most.”
- Joe Doherty, 12-year-old Matthew’s dad.