Father gives son a gift for life

Michelle Nic Phaidin


Michelle Nic Phaidin

A baby who was given minutes to live over four years ago continues to thrive after being given a kidney by his father on Monday.

A baby who was given minutes to live over four years ago continues to thrive after being given a kidney by his father on Monday.

Christian McCullagh rushed into this world five weeks early and at birth was diagnosed with serious medical conditions which included under developed lungs, a leaking valve in his heart and was at the end stage of renal failure.

Christian McCullagh was born in Letterkenny General Hospital (LGH) on February 6, 2008. His family bid goodbye to their little bundle of joy twice before they discovered the baby’s ability to fight for life.

His father Gary said: “We said goodbye twice to him. He wouldn’t take to the ventilator in Letterkenny. An ambulance arrived from Holles Street, Maternity hospital in Dublin with equipment and he took to that. He was then taken to Holles Street hospital and was put on life support there. After that he spent fourteen weeks in Crumlin’s Hospital for children. All in all he has had about twelve operations, probably more,” he said.

On Monday last both father and son lay on hospital beds separated by high rise building and Luas tracks waiting for the operations to take place. For Raphoe boxer and coach Gary he had no doubt or hesitation in his heart. “I knew I was a blood match for a long time. However, we had to wait till he came to a certain age to do this and we had to undergo many tests before the date was decided. There was no hesitation on my side whatsoever. I knew I would do this. It is a gift for life. In March of this year, we were put on the transplant list. After the operation was over, my kidney had to be rushed from Beaumont Hospital to the Temple Street Hospital in Crumlin,” he said.

Yesterday, while mother Aileen stayed by Christian’s bedside, Gary was at home in Raphoe. Gary was sore as he recovered from his recent operation.

“We are delighted that he has responded well. I am very sore but Christian is running around. He will be in hospital for around three weeks,” he said.

The kidney from his father will mean a new life for him, his wife and his daughter Rocha. Before the operation, Christian had to undergo dialysis five nights a week.

During Gary’s tenure in hospital he was visited by Ken Egan the Olympian boxing champion. “I am delighted that I could give my son my kidney. A person can survive on fifty per cent of one, so I still have a full kidney. My operation took four hours and Christians took around six. I would like to thank surgeons Richard Power and David Hickey and their teams who operated on us both.”