A CASTLETOWNBERE artist who got a liver transplant three years ago was among those to welcome Don Hannon to the Beara Peninsula – his final destination on his 1,000km run to raise organ donor awareness,
Don, 45, who lives in Sandyford in Dublin, undertook this arduous journey to raise organ donor awareness less than two years after he donated part of his liver to his sister.
As he took his final strides into Castletownbere, his spirits were lifted by the Garda escort leading him into the town square and the rapturous welcome he received 15 days after embarked out from the Giant’s Causeway on the first day of Organ Donor Awareness Week on March 31st.
Not only is he understood to be the first man to undertake this challenge to run the full distance of the Ireland Way, according to the Irish Kidney Association, he also smashed his goal to get over 1,000 people to sign up for organ donor cards.
Among the many supporters who showed up to greet Don was his proud mother Sally, as well as local artist and musician Tim Goulding, himself a liver transplant recipient who said: ‘My wife Georgina and I are so excited to be meeting Don at the end of his epic run from top to toe of the country. There are few men or women in the whole of their health that would undertake such a venture.
‘What makes Don doubly special is that he is inspiring many on the way to consider carrying a donor card, having successfully donated a part of his own liver to his sister.
‘As a recipient of a new liver nearly three years ago I am naturally aware that I have been given a second chance in life due to a family’s generosity and foresight. Out of someone’s tragedy has sprung a new life. Us recipients share one overriding emotion, gratitude.’
Colin White, the national projects manager with the Irish Kidney Association, added: ‘We have been following Don’s progress since the start of his journey and the ups and downs he experienced along the way. It is not only a tremendous physical achievement for Don, but it has also caught the imagination of people who had never met him but were inspired by his challenge and were motivated to think positively about organ donation and take steps to sign up for organ donor cards.’
Free information factfiles, which accompany organ donor cards, are obtainable from the Irish Kidney Association and are available nationwide from pharmacies GP Surgeries and Citizen Information Offices.
Organ Donor Cards can also be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on tel 01 6205306 or free text the word DONOR to 50050. Visit website www.ika.ie/card