Ciarán and I met through our love of the Irish Language at the Loch an Iúir Gaeltacht when we were young teenagers. We continued our friendship throughout our school years and eventually lived together at University in Coleraine, where we and a group of friends studied the Irish language.
Ciarán was always so happy and laid-back. He was always smiling and was forever the gentleman! He would always go out of his way to help others and I never once heard him complain about anything!
I knew that Ciarán suffered from Cystic Fibrosis, but it wasn't until we lived with each other that I realised the full extent of his illness. I realised then how much it impacted his life. He had to take a lot of medication and, every so often, he became unwell and had to go into hospital for long stays. He never really spoke about Cystic Fibrosis and seemed to take everything in his stride. Even when he was staying at the City Hospital for weeks on end, he would never complain or be angry or begrudge his situation. Seeing this side of Ciarán made me realise what a strong and selfless person he really was and I admire him so much for this.
Ciarán had a life-long battle with CF, but after a long wait on the transplant list, he successfully underwent a double lung transplant in 2009. It was a very complicated operation and everyone was hoping and praying that he would make it through. Fortunately, he did and so began a new start for Ciarán. I remember him telling me after his operation how good it felt to take a deep breath and thinking to myself how humble he was and how much we all take for granted.
In the four years that followed, Ciarán was able to embrace life to the fullest - he got a full-time job and continued his degree in Irish Language, whilst teaching others in his spare time. He ran the last leg of the Belfast marathon just 1 year after his transplant. He was able to go on holidays with his family and didn't have to worry about being close to home in case of a sudden bout of ill-health.
In August 2013, Ciarán went into chronic rejection and battled hard for months, until he was put back on the transplant list in January 2014. Unfortunately, the opportunity for a transplant never arose and Ciarán's condition deteriorated. Whilst in hospital, Ciarán married his partner, Catriona, and also received his degree from the University of Ulster
It was in June 2014 that doctors told Ciarán that he was too ill for a transplant.
Ciarán passed away from Cystic Fibrosis on 4th July 2014. After his death, Ciarán's sister, Claire, told me of the days leading up to his death. Ciarán didn't want to die. He had so much love for his family and friends and had so much more to give. He never took life for granted and he knew more than many of us how precious every breath and every minute really is.
Murph, you were a legend, an absolute gent and a pleasure to be around. I am priveleged to have met you and to have known you during your short life. You are sorely missed and your memory will live on in your friends' and family's lives. Thanks for the fun times! Codladh sámh, a chara.
In order to honour Ciarán's memory, I am running the Great North Run in September 2015. I am in no way a runner, so I wanted to challenge myself so that I could raise awareness for the Cystic Fibrosis and to raise money for their research, which may one day provide a cure for CF, or at least better treatment, enabling its sufferers to live a longer and fuller life.
As part of my fundraising, I would also like to raise awareness of organ donation. Ciarán became and advocate and a voice for the charity and for organ donation following his transplant, bravely facing the media to tell his story in the hope that others will do the same. He said, "the decision to donate an organ I feel is the most humane thing a person can do...what matters is that when in the darkest hour of someone's life they had enough love left to become a hero and shine a light back into mine".
Are you on the organ donation register? Although you may be willing to donate your organs, this won't happen unless you register. Statistics say that most people would donate our organs, but only a third of us have joined the register. More than 10,000 people in the UK currently need a transplant. Of these, three a day will die waiting as there are not enough organs available.
Please help to turn your good intentions about organ donation into action by registering on the NHS Organ Donation Register. Doing this will give someone else the chance of a new life.
For more information on Cystic Fibrosis and organ donation and to join the organ donation register, please visit the websites below:
Thank you for taking the time to visit my JustGiving page. Any small donation will help in finding a cure for CF and every penny will be very much appreciated.