Two golds and a silver for heart transplant dad who made history

By Mary Dennehy

A TALLAGHT dad who was the youngest person in Irish history to receive a heart transplant has returned home to Killinarden from the European Heart and Lung Transplant Games with two golds and one silver.

In September 1993, 11-year-old Patrick Barry was diagnosed with Viral Cardiomyopathy, an inflammatory viral disease of the heart muscle, and given only months to live.

Patrick Barry heart transplant 2

As a heart transplant was the only treatment for Patrick’s illness, his family was told that their son would not see Christmas.
However, on December 18, 1993 a donor was found for Patrick – who at this stage weighed only four stone.

Patrick was rushed to the Mater Hospital and operated on that same day, after which the brave 11-year-old made a full recovery – and is now, at the age of 33, the proud father of two girls and looking forward to marrying his fiancé Amanda in Killarney this August.

An avid soccer fan, Patrick, who grew up in Killinarden and now lives in Cushlawn with his own family, won gold in both the tennis singles and doubles at this year’s transplant games in Vantaa, Finland, alongside winning silver in the 100 meter sprint.

Patrick Barry tennis

Patrick, who visits the Mater Hospital for regular check-ups, told The Echo: “Being a donor can make such a difference to people’s lives.

“Take me, for example, if I didn’t get that heart I would not be alive, my children would not have been born . . . so alongside saving lives, organ donation creates lives.

“I think sometimes people may think “what’s the point” in organ donation, they believe that people who get organ donations never have a full lease of life.

“However, this is so far from the truth.

“I live a very full life, I play soccer and tennis, I have two beautiful daughters, I’m getting married next month – I work and live like everybody else.”

He added: “The transplant games are amazing and a great way of raising awareness around organ donation.

Patrick Barry

“I know it can be a difficult conversation to have but if people want to be organ donors they need to tell their families.

“When a family loses somebody organ donation can be very hard to think about, but further down the line families do get some comfort from knowing the difference their loved one made to somebody else.

“One person can save up to seven lives through the donation of their organs.”

Patrick travelled to the European games with the Irish Heart and Lung Transplant Association (IHLTA), which, a voluntary organisation, started providing support to patients after the first heart transplant operation in Ireland was successfully completed in the Mater Hospital in 1985.

For further information or to learn more about donor cards visit www.ihlta.ie or visit the Irish Kidney Association page, www.ika.ie

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