You are currently viewing Brian’s Story – Organ Donor Awareness Week 2024

Brian’s Story – Organ Donor Awareness Week 2024

Written by Brian Vaughan, a double lung transplant recipient, from Dublin who attended the launch of Organ Donor Awareness Week with wife Roisin and children twins Emily and Elsie (12) and Senan (8).

My name is Brian, and I am happy to say that I am 44 years old and just over 2 years ago I had a double lung transplant.

I am married to Roisin, with three remarkable children; twin girls Emily and Elise, aged 12, and an 8-year-old son, Senan.  Despite being born with a mild form of cystic fibrosis, I always embraced life with resilience and gratitude. My childhood was relatively normal, punctuated by occasional hospital visits, but I was lucky, I probably had about 7-8 hospitalisations in 42 years. I never let CF get in the way of me living my life. I have had a good career, I went to college, I have always worked full-time, and have been lecturer and researcher for almost 20 years.

However, in late 2020, my health took a sudden downturn, leading to several prolonged hospitalisations.  Over the course of 18 challenging months, I was constantly in and out of hospital, spending about 9 months in total in hospital which became a second home to me. When I wasn’t in hospital I was at home, but unfortunately, home was not much different to a hospital, as I had to follow a very strict and complex medical regime.

My lung function declined, and I grappled with relentless nausea and weight loss, necessitating tube feeding. I was on oxygen 24 hours a day, and even simple tasks like getting dressed or left me out of breath and anxious. Going up the stairs was like climbing Everest, the 13 steps might as well have been 3000.

Despite the tireless efforts of the team at Saint Vincent’s, the day came when they told me that I needed a transplant and that all they could do was keep me transplant well. By that stage my lung function had declined to 30% and it became clear that a lung transplant was my only hope. After a series of tests, I finally went on the transplant list.

All through this Roisin was, essentially, a single parent to our three kids, while also juggling a full-time job, and caring for me.  She got me through the toughest time of my life with help from mom and my sisters, especially my sister Maria, who were always on call when needed.

The team in St Vincent’s were fantastic, and I am forever grateful to them, but the end of 2021 seemed bleak, and that Christmas was potentially my last one. My lung function continued to decline, and at that stage my was less than 20%. I couldn’t lift my son, who was 5 at the time, I wasn’t able to play with my kids, I couldn’t help with homework; I wasn’t able to be a parent or a husband.

I was a passive observer in my own life. I was planning on making videos for my kids so they would get to know me when I wasn’t there.

Early in 2022, I found myself back in hospital for another stay and was close to getting home again when I got a call. I instantly recognised the voice of Marie, one of the transplant coordinators in the Mater hospital. It was a lifeline, offering the promise of renewed life because some selfless person, and their family, had made the decision to become an organ donor.  Under the fantastic care of the team in the Mater, I underwent surgery, knowing that my donor’s selfless gift was giving me new life. I also know from speaking to one of the surgeons, that my donor also donated other organs and saved more lives than mine that day.

The transformation after the transplant almost defies description. It was a renewal of life with a gratitude for each precious moment. And no matter how difficult or painful my recovery was, seeing my oxygen levels at 100% made it all worthwhile.

My donor restored me to my family and friends, Emily Elise and Senan got their dad back, Roisin got her husband back, my mom back her son, and my sisters back their brother. I think about my donor and their family every day, and I hope the family know what a wonderful thing they did during a very difficult time for them.  I am very well looked after by the transplant team in the Mater, and while the journey post-transplant has its challenges, the worst days post-transplant are a hundred times better than the best days pre-transplant.  I am back to work full-time, I’m able to play with my kids again, I see my friends and family, and there is not a lot that I cannot do now.

I would like to thank the Irish Heart and Lung Transplant Association and the Irish Kidney Association for the excellent work they do and for giving me this opportunity to tell my story.

Organ donation saved my life, and I will be forever grateful.

Visit for more information and to request an Organ Donor Card.