PAT Horan is one lucky man. The retired builder from Mountmellick arrived home from hospital earlier this month after receiving his second liver transplant in six years, after a three month stay in the liver unit of St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin.
Together with his wife Patricia, who was recently in hospital herself, they enjoyed Christmas day with their four grown children Ashling, Catherine, William and Michelle, and their family and friends.
Pat is recovering well and slowly building up his strength since the life-saving operation, and has been overwhelmed by the support of family and friends.
He got his first transplant in 2005, and it was during a regular checkup last August that his doctor, Professor McCormack, noticed a deterioration in his condition.
“I had noticed myself getting weaker too, I would be tired every evening, I had gone yellow,” Pat recalls.
After blood tests revealed problems, he was admitted to the hospital to begin a long wait for a suitable donor.
“It could happen any morning, so you need to be there, on the list. They did a lot of tests and scans, you have to have great patience,” he said.
Throughout his stay, he was greatly supported by his friend PJ (Pajo) Kearns.
“He left his horses and everything down, and drove my family up and down three times a week to see me. I’d like to thank him for that,” said Pat.
“I think it was November 2 I had the operation. After that I went into a coma for ten or eleven days. I came around fairly good then, and got discharged a month later on December 2,” he said.
Friends and family threw a little party for him when he was leaving the unit, and staff who had got to know Pat well during his stay dropped in to pass on their good wishes. Then the whole group went over with Pat in his wheelchair to visit his wife Patricia across the way in the Mater Private, before coming home to Manor Road.
He has had to learn to take things very easy.
“I’m still weak enough. It is more difficult at home, you tend to stay up talking. It will be a long time before I’m well again, I hope to be back to even half of what I was. I’m going around the house with a walking stick now,” he says.
He is delighted when visitors call, but finds he needs a lot of rest too.
“I ring them and tell them when I’m here. I have a room that’s nice and quiet, so my mind and body gets a rest,” he said.
He tries not to dwell on the knowledge that he is alive because of someone else’s tragic death.
“You put it to one side, it’s not like an arm that you can see it all the time. The first donor was a young lad of 30. When the liver starts failing, there’s no hope, it’s a live or die situation, you have no chance otherwise,” he said.
Pat also thanked Fr Noel Dunphy for his support, and his brothers and sisters Tom, Ned, Martha, Teresa, Breda, Kathleen and Maura.