‘Faith got me through ordeal’

Jo-Anne Dobson
Jo-Anne Dobson

The possibility that you might lose your child is one that no parent ever wants to even contemplate facing.

Yet when her youngest son Mark was just five weeks old, Jo-Anne and her husband John were told that his kidneys were shutting down.

The only thing that got her through was her Christian faith.

“I was raised in a Christian family,” says Jo-Anne, who now attends the Church of Ireland in her home village of Waringstown. “When you are facing the prospect of potentially losing your child, you need to have that strong faith. You need to be able to turn to God and ask Him to get through it.

“It maybe sounds twee, but I believe that God doesn’t send you anything He doesn’t think you can cope with.”

And the UUP woman says that what happened with Mark’s health has “certainly shaped” her family, and made them the way they are now, in that they “take absolutely nothing for granted in life”.

She explains that although Mark’s operation was successful, he will need a second, and possibly a third, kidney transplant in his lifetime.

“I think that what people don’t realise is that having a transplant is not the end. As any patient post-transplant does, Mark has wee problems.

“For example because he is out on the farm he lives in Wellington boots so he has problems with ingrown toenails, things that are harder to heal than they would be for other people.

“But he’s fine at the minute.”

At the end of January this year, a Private Member’s Bill pushed forward by Jo-Anne, which proposed that everyone would be on the organ donation register unless they opted out, failed after being voted down by the Assembly’s two main parties.