The Clayton Hotel, Cork, was the venue for the extraordinary Gift of Life Ball on Saturday September 22, which was attended by 270 people! The ball was the brainchild of Sally Nagle, a 26-year-old native of Montenotte, to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation, to raise much needed funds for the Irish Kidney Association who are celebrating their fortieth anniversary this year, and, most importantly, on a personal level for Sally, to honour her donor and their family for the ‘Gift of Life’ they gave her as she celebrates the tenth anniversary of her kidney transplant.
Sally was diagnosed with a very rare condition in childhood – the only child to have the condition in Ireland and the UK – a symptom of which would be kidney failure in her teenage years. From the age of 14 Sally was on 12-hour daily dialysis for two years before that life-saving and life-changing call came to her 10 years ago.
The night itself was, as all great ball events are, full of glamour and glitz! It started with a drinks reception allowing guests to mingle and chat before dinner to the accompaniment of gorgeous singing and piano playing by Lorna Moore. After the meal everyone danced away the night into the small hours to the music of Sonic, The Band, and later, DJ Jimmy Burke.
While Sally was the organiser extraordinaire, she was supported by a legion of generous sponsors, large and small, who provided a host of spot prizes, donated their time and talents in all kinds of ways, or sponsored parts of the evening, to ensure that the maximum funds would be raised for the Irish Kidney Association. To date the event has raised in excess of €14,000!
“Without the generosity and cooperation of so many, this level of fundraising would not have been possible.”
Photos: Kelesy Vinke Tuke.
The four-course sumptuous meal was interspersed by very poignant, and at times very funny, short presentations from invited guests introduced by MC for the night, Darragh McGann. Among the speakers were Pat O’Sullivan, Chairman of the Cork branch of the Irish Kidney Association, who announced that the funds raised that evening would go towards furnishing a recently procured house in the vicinity of the Cork University Hospital (CUH) that can be used by family members of transplantation patients attending the hospital. This is a much needed facility for families to stay in during their loved ones long stays in hospital.
This was followed by a moving address by Professor Liam Plant of the CUH, who described the courage and generosity of the donors and their families and the courage and perseverance of the patients and their families and their roller coaster journey pre- and post-transplantation. As Prof Plant spoke, one sensed the integrity and respect that he and the renal nurses and transplantation team at CUH have for each of their patients and their families, and for the donor and their families, and of the spectrum of emotions from heartbreak and tragic loss to utter joy and life-changing possibilities that are the territory of organ transplantation.
The very humorous and moving presentation by Isabel Terry, who had double-lung and heart transplantation a year ago, gave a real sense of the ups and downs of her own transplantation journey, with six aborted calls for transplantation over a period of years and the excitement and disappointment this brought her.
Sally’s own presentation reminded people to start having the conversation with their family about their wishes in relation to organ donation and the need for everyone to carry an organ donor card. Receiving a kidney transplant has transformed her life and given her endless possibilities, which she has grabbed with both hands and it is her wish that as many as possible will receive the gift of life that transplantation would give them.
As part of Sally’s fundraising efforts, she co-wrote and recorded a song, Endless Possibilities, which she sang on the night, as a thank you to her donor. It is a very moving and sacred celebration of the many donors and their families and the patients and their families, many of whom were attending the ball on the night.
All proceeds from the sale of the two-track CD at €5 go to the Irish Kidney Association. Sally is keenly aware of the preciousness of life and, despite some of the challenges of her condition, as the title of her song says, she lives life to the full, with the knowledge that no matter what struggles she has to face there are always Endless Possibilities.
The CD, Endless Possibilities is available by contacting Sally via the Facebook page, Gift of Life Ball.
The Irish kidney association can be contacted for donor cards at their website.