Girl (2) ‘went on to save four lives’ after death by donating organs, mother says

Hannah Kealy died in 2022 and her heart, liver, bowel and kidneys were donated to three children and one adult

A two-year-old girl who died two years ago “went on to save four lives” through organ donation, her mother has said.

Hannah Kealy, from Timahoe, Co Laois passed away in July 2022 following a “tragic accident” and her parents Marie and Denis made the decision to donate her organs.

“For us, it meant if even just one family weren’t put into the situation we were in, that was enough,” Ms Kealy said of the couple’s decision.

“Our little Hannah went on to save four lives – Hannah’s little heart was donated to a little boy, part of her liver to a premature baby, her small bowel and hemicolon to another small boy and her kidneys to a young mammy.


“She became the miracle that those four families hoped for so long and that brings us some peace. To think that parts of our little girl are working away in other people is a surreal feeling at times.”

Ms Kealy was speaking at the launch of Organ Donor Awareness Week in Dublin on Tuesday. Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said he was aiming to have the State’s new organ donation system in place by the end of the year of deemed or presumed consent to organ donation after a person dies, unless they had previously registered their desire not to be a donor.

“The Human Tissue Act has now passed, it’s been signed by the President,” Mr Donnelly told reporters. “There’s a lot of preparatory work that’s needed but I’ve asked my officials to work towards having by the end of this year, all of us by default as organ donors.”

Ms Kealy said her daughter’s memory lives on in the four organ recipients and their families as well as “in countless lives she has touched”.

“While no parent should have to face such a heartbreaking decision, we hope that by sharing Hannah’s story others will understand the profound impact of organ donation,” she said.

Ms Kealy said while they didn’t know the organ recipients, they had received letters from them thanking the couple which had “definitely helped”.

There are about 600 people active on waiting lists for organ transplants at any one time, according to the Irish Kidney Association. Last year 282 organ transplant operations were carried out in Ireland, 32 more than the previous year.

Christine Kelly (72), from Glasnevin in north Dublin, received a kidney from her older sister Mary in 1974. She has the longest functioning kidney from a living donor.

While her sister Mary died in 2000 from breast cancer, Ms Kelly said it felt like “she’s still here with me in a way” due to the organ donation.

“We were practically like twins,” Ms Kelly said. “We were very close, the two of us lived beside each other. It meant so much to me and was very special that Mary could do it for me.”

Carol Moore, chief executive of the Irish Kidney Association, said those who do not opt out will be considered for potential organ donation, but their families would still have the final decision.

“The [Human Tissue] Act will also allow, for the first time, for altruistic living donation in Ireland, where the donor does not know the recipient,” she said.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times