15 Aug 2022

'Hayley was my rock when I had given up hope'

'Hayley was my rock when I had given up hope'

Tipperary's Eoin Shanahan with his wife Hayley.

A Tipperary strongman has a "new lease on life" following a kidney transplant last November.

Eoin Shanahan from Childers Park in Thurles underwent a pre-emptive kidney transplant six years after doctors gave him the heartbreaking news that he had renal failure.

The 31-year-old says his wife Hayley (née Fitzgerald) was his rock throughout the ordeal, and the support he received from family and friends was phenomenal.

Speaking to The Nationalist ahead of the Irish Kidney Association’s Organ Donor Awareness Week 2017 campaign which runs from April 1-8, Eoin recalls: “I was getting dizzy all the time and had high blood pressure back in 2010, so I decided to go for a check up. My doctor referred me to a specialist in Limerick, and I was shocked and devastated to learn I had renal failure”.

Eoin’s world suddenly turned upside down. He started lifting weights as a teenager and began competing in strongman contests in 2009. He placed third in Ireland's Strongest Man heavyweight category that year and in 2010,  and went forward to compete in the UK Strongest Man competition. Eoin came second in Ireland's Strongest Man in 2014 amidst his plight and carried on to the European stage. But gradually Eoin’s health became detrimental to his passion.

“Everything changed dramatically. I’m on medication for the rest of my life, and I started coming home from work wrecked and went straight to bed. I lost up to five stone and was completely out of sorts as I was used to bulking up for competitions. Not knowing what was going to happen to me was the worst part,” an emotional Eoin continues.

Eoin was put on a transplant pool in July 2016, describing the agony he went through just one month before getting married to his sweetheart Hayley. “I didn’t want to go on dialysis before our wedding day, and managed to pull on through to November when I was told I would be put on dialysis within a week. The next night I got a call at 3 am to say I had a donor," he remembers. 

Eoin was one of 172 people to have a kidney transplant - including a record 50 from living donors - at Beaumont Hospital in 2016. "The staff at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin were brilliant in every way," Eoin praises. 

Eoin is starting to regain his strength and is optimistic about the future. "I’m forever grateful as it has given me hope for the future and a new outlook on life," he adds.

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