Transplant patient Sofia (7) enjoys first ever Easter Egg

By William O'Connor

A SEVEN-year-old girl who has been cocooning for over a year got to taste her first ever Easter Egg this weekend in the back garden of her home.

Sofia Corey has been a kidney patient from the time she was a new-born and due to the diet restrictions of her illness she couldn't eat chocolate.

Sofia Corey

Sofia Corey enjoying her first Easter Egg in her back garden

That all changed and her love for chocolate developed quickly after she received a life changing transplant on Christmas week last year.

Her parents Elaine McElroy and Daniel Corey are sharing their only child Sofia’s health story in support of Organ Donor Awareness Week 2021 which is organised by the Irish Kidney Association and concludes this weekend. www.ika.ie/donorweek2021

Sofia, from Walkinstown, was born a month prematurely and was diagnosed with the kidney condition Congenital Nephrotic Syndrome when she was just seven weeks old.

She became a patient at Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin and underwent an operation to have one of her kidneys removed when she was just six-months-old.

When she was two and half years old her parents were trained up to give her nightly dialysis treatment which she underwent at home for twelve hours at a time. This continued for over four years until she was called for her kidney transplant last Christmas. 

Sofia’s mum Elaine McElroy said: “Because of Covid 19 and as a dialysis patient and now a transplant patient in the high-risk category, she has been cocooning for over a year away from her school friends. 

“It’s great that Spring has arrived as she can now enjoy more time outside in the back garden where she loves to play in her playhouse.

“We are so grateful to the kidney donor for finally giving Sofia a chance of a normal childhood. Both myself and Sofia’s father were extremely disappointed to learn that neither of us were suitable kidney donors as we had always assumed that one of us would be. 

“Sofia had to reach 12kg in weight and 90cm in length in order to be accepted onto the transplant wating list. She needed to be big enough to be able to receive a donor kidney. She was five years old before she reached the required size. Then Daniel and I began the screening process for living donation which turned out to be unsuccessful. 

“We can never thank the donor family enough who transformed Sofia’s life.

“We hope that by this September Sofia can be reunited with her school friends when she starts first class, who she hasn’t seen for over a year because she has been cocooning with just me and her dad. She can now look forward to a normal childhood and like most kids she has developed a fondness for chocolate.

“This will be her first Easter to enjoy Easter eggs, just like her friends. She is totally free from dialysis now and we are starting to see her appetite improve and she is much more active now.

“She no longer has diet and fluid restrictions. The fluid restrictions were very tough for her particularly in the summer months when she was confined to just 200mls of water which we would have to make up in ice cubes to try to prolong her enjoyment when she was thirsty.

“She liked to suck on a damp sponge. Her life revolved around nightly dialysis before and lots of sickness and hospital visits but since her transplant she hasn’t had any setbacks. She was so excited to have a go into hospital on Good Friday to finally have the dialysis line removed from her chest.

"She can’t wait to go swimming as she has never done this before. We are going to buy her a paddling pool for the sunny weather, something she has never been able to enjoy before when she had a dialysis line.

 “I would urge everyone to try to understand the importance of organ donation. A donor has given Sofia a chance to have a normal childhood. Our family will never be able to describe how grateful we are for this.”

 Organ Donor Awareness Week 2021, is organised by the Irish Kidney Association, and runs from March 27 until April 3.

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