Castlerea family appeal for support on organ transplants



Kidney disease has struck many members of family, but they are resilient and upbeat…


Members of a family from Castlerea, Co. Roscommon are this week highlighting the importance of organ donor awareness. Five members of the Mulligan family have been diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), which is a progressive illness which can remain dormant for decades. 

  Now, in conjunction with Organ Donor Awareness Week, the family are telling their story in order to help highlight how vitally important organ donation is.

  Michael Mulligan (70) and his wife Breege live in their native Castlerea. Michael received a kidney transplant 14 years ago, after the death of an organ donor. The transplant was a success and Michael is enjoying retirement with his wife Breege.

  Over the years, four of the couple’s six children have been diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD).

  Three of the sisters – Pamela, Julie and Paula – live within fifteen minutes’ drive of one another in Co. Wicklow, having married three men who were actually friends before those weddings! A fourth sister, Susan, lives in Islandbridge in Dublin. The oldest sister, Lydna, lives in Rahan, Co. Offaly. All five sisters have received a PKD diagnosis. The youngest member of the family and only son, Mikki, lives in Canada and has not been tested yet for PKD.

  Susan Mulligan was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) when she was in college after she sustained a sports injury. For over two and a half years she has been undergoing haemodialysis treatment at the Beacon in Tallaght.  

  Following Susan’s diagnosis, she managed to stave off dialysis treatment for over a decade as her condition was carefully monitored and treated through medication as well as lifestyle and dietary changes. 

  Three of Susan’s sisters, Pamela, Julie and Paula, live in Wicklow (in Aughrim, Avoca and Arklow) with their husbands.

  Julie went into end stage kidney failure following the birth of her son two years ago. Julie’s declining kidney function is being carefully monitored and she may need to commence dialysis treatment soon. She is currently awaiting her appointment to visit the renal team at Beaumont Hospital for referral onto the transplant waiting pool.

  Pamela and Julie had completed their PKD tests for a medical report which was required for their mortgage applications. Fortunately for Pamela, who lives in Arklow with her husband Neil and three sons, her tests came back negative for PKD. However, another sister, Paula, who lives in Avoca and was diagnosed with the disease, had experienced a temporary dip in kidney function after the birth of her twin boys last year, but her kidney function has since improved and her condition hasn’t progressed.

  The oldest sister in the Mulligan family, Lynda, has also  received a PKD diagnosis, but she continues to enjoy good health while living in Rahan, Co. Offaly with her husband Nicky. 

  Susan and her family are grateful to the family of their father’s deceased donor transplant and are sharing their story in order to publicly support the annual Organ Donor Awareness Week. Organ Donor Awareness Week aims to raise awareness about organ failure and encourage the public to support organ donation for transplantation and tell their next-of-kind their wishes.

  Susan said: “My family are truly grateful to the donor family who gave my father a new lease of life. For the other members of our family who will need organ transplants in the future and for all those other people on transplant waiting lists, we are sharing our story to help raise awareness about how vitally important organ donation is”.