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'I never questioned that I would give her a kidney because we have the same DNA we're a perfect match.. we are closer now, I know ' there's a piece of me in her' IDENTICAL TWINS SHARE GIFT OF LIFE IN TRANSPLANT.

Byline: NAMOMI McELROY

IDENTICAL twins always have a special bond, but for sisters Jillian and Valerie O'Connell it goes much deeper - they even shared a kidney.

When Valerie desperately needed a transplant, Jillian was there in a flash to offer hers, and because they have identical DNA, the operation was a complete success.

Mum-of-one Jillian, 42, from Stillorgan, Dublin, said: "When you're an identical twin you're born with spare parts. Up to the age of 22 there wasn't a problem with Valerie. It was only when we went to do a pension medical test that they discovered protein in her urine, which is obviously not meant to be there.

"The problem got worse and worse, the levels in the urine should be around 90 - 110 but year after year they kept going up, 250, 260, 270.

"We don't know why it happened, but we were two very small babies, she was two pounds, I was three pounds. When you're that small there's always a chance something won't develop properly.

"As Valerie's creatine levels went up she was put on medication, and after 15 years onto dialysis. Nine months later she had the transplant.

"I never questioned that I would give her a kidney, why would anyone else? You could travel the world and test everyone you meet and never find a better match, because we have the same DNA.

"We were the first identical twins in Beaumont to have the operation done, and all we needed after it was paracetamol. We are closer now, I know there's a piece of me in her."

Valerie and Jillian were special guests at the Irish Kidney Association's 25th Annual Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving in Dublin yesterday.

Valerie said: "Jillian gave me the best present ever, I can't thank her enough.

Because we are a perfect genetic match the kidney took immediately, I was out of hospital in five days.

"Jillian had no hesitation, some people were saying to her, 'Are you mad Jillian, what if something happens to your other kidney?' but she'd just say, 'Plenty of people are born with just one kidney. I have a piece of Jillian in me now and I love her so much for it."

CAPTION(S):

Perfect match... Identical twin sisters Jillian (left) and Valerie OConnell from Stillorgan who are celebrating the success of Valerie's kidney transplant. Jillian donated a kidney to her sister Live savers... Surgical team performs kidney transplant in operating room
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUIR
Date:Nov 7, 2010
Words:409
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