June 5, 2023

Brave Kilkenny couple to wed, ‘in sickness and in health’


A KILKENNY couple who plan to wed ‘in sickness and in health’ are on a mission to promote organ donation.

Elaine Murphy and her fiancé Mark Kavanagh, who is on dialysis for up to nine hours a night as he awaits a kidney transplant, are due to get married in July 2020.

Elaine, who runs her own business ‘Bridal/Occasion Hair by Elaine’, has been harnessing the power of social media to try and create awareness about the importance of organ donation. Her heartfelt posts on Facebook and Instagram about Mark’s diagnosis and treatment have gone viral in recent weeks.

And their inspiring story received a national audience when they were invited to appear on RTÉ’s Today with Maura and Daithí programme recently.

Mark’s world turned upside down three years ago when he received a shock diagnosis that he had a kidney condition called IGA Nephropathy and would need a transplant.

At the time of his diagnosis Elaine had just branched out and set up her own business. They also had a young baby and were working hard to save for a mortgage.

Mark was commuting to Limerick to work and was an avid hurler. When he started getting headaches and experiencing fatigue, he put it down to age and a new baby in the house. Finally, thanks to pressure from Elaine and his mother, he eventually relented and went to the doctor.

Since his diagnosis, Mark has given up work and they face a worrying and uncertain future. Because of Mark’s illness they can’t get a mortgage. They have two children, Lily is Mark’s step child (9) and Heidi (3), who was born in December 2015, just a few months before Mark’s diagnosis.

Mark now undergoes a form of home dialysis every night for up to nine hours at a time. While this restricts his freedom and the alarm disrupts his sleep, he is also grateful to have it.

“That’s what helps my kidneys function when they are not working. That’s what is keeping me alive,” Mark told KilkennyNow.ie.

Mark’s diet and fluid intake is restricted daily and he tires very easily.

Mark is, by nature, a very positive person and wants to remain so for Elaine and the children. And he said he gets incredible support from Elaine, his friends and his parents.

“I still try to do as much as I can. I try not to let it hold me back. If I was to stop doing everything and stay at home, I know it would get inside my head and that could lead to other problems. I think the key is to stay positive,” Mark adds.

Despite the hardship the young family has had to endure, Mark says their wedding plans for July 2020 are going well.

“We’re are both looking forward to it. It would be great if I got a transplant before it,” he said.

The average waiting time for a transplant is three years. Mark said he would love to enjoy his wedding day without having to worry about fatigue or fluid intake.

Mark said his perspective on life is has changed since his diagnosis.

“I don’t think people treat their body or life as respectfully as they should. Its only when something happens, then you realise it. No-one knows what’s around the corner,” Mark added.

Elaine and Mark urged people to be mindful of their health and go for regular check-ups. Mark said he is living proof that you can go from seeming healthy without symptoms to struggling to get by every day.

Mark’s sister and mother went forward to be assessed for living donation, but neither were deemed to be suitable. His father was also ruled out as a donor because he has high blood pressure.

Mark stressed the importance of organ donation, and urged more people to carry a donor card and give others the gift of life.

He added: “Have the chat with your next of kin. If you carry a donor card you can save lives. Before this happened to me I would never have thought of it. But now all my friends and family carry donor cards.”

To learn more about organ donation, Lo-call 1890 543 639.

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