Ken’s marathon cycle highlights importance of organ donation

By Aideen O'Flaherty

A HEART transplant recipient who cycled from Dublin to Galway to highlight the importance of people talking to their families about organ donation has spoken of his emotional experience during the two-day cycle, where he battled rain and headwind along the 212km route last weekend.

Lucan man Ken Mulkerrins (39) was born with a congenital heart defect which then developed into cardio-myopathy, a disease of the heart muscle, in 2004, and, after several years of being on medication for cardiomyopathy, Ken was then diagnosed with end-stage heart failure in 2015.

Ken with family friends and supporters in the garden

Ken Mulkerrins with family and friends in the Circle of Life National Organ Donor Commemorative Garden 

The father-of-two spent four-and-a-half months on the transplant list before he received a heart transplant in March 2016, and since then he has engaged in numerous fitness pursuits in recognition of the new lease of life his donor’s heart has given him.

Ken, who works as a product developer for Kilsaran, cycled from Lucan to the Circle of Life National Organ Donor Commemorative Garden in Galway last weekend.

Ken told The Echo: “The atmosphere was very good, people joined in with me along the way.

“I have family in Craughwell, Galway, who were standing at the side of the road cheering me on – it was amazing, there was a huge crowd of them.

“For the last 3km I was joined by my nine-year-old son Conor, and I did the last kilometre with my six-year-old daughter Kate.”

When Ken arrived at the Circle of Life National Organ Donor Commemorative Garden last Saturday he was joined by family, friends and supporters.

“It felt great when we got to the commemorative garden,” Ken said. “It was very emotional and we were all embracing each other.

“I was thinking of my donor when I was in the garden. Everyone was in a good, reflective mood. I think most people had a lump in their throat.”

Ken stopped off in a number of places along the way, where he was spreading the word about the importance of people informing their next of kin about their wishes in relation to organ donation.

Ken added that there is a common misconception that people have that by signing an organ donor card and keeping it on their person, or marking it on their driving licence, that this will automatically mean their organs will be donated, however the final decision is made by your next of kin.

Reflecting on the impact he hopes his cycle will have, Ken said that his hope is that people will make their wishes in relation to organ donation known to their families.

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