Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund Rounds Off 50 Year Celebrations with Thanksgiving Service

Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund rounded off their 50th celebrations with a special Thanksgiving Service at the Chapel of Unity, Methodist College Belfast on Sunday, 27 November.

Rev Willie Nixon officiated with key medical staff, kidney donors, their families and transplant recipients taking part.  A poignant “lighting of candles”, by guests and members of the congregation, took place in remembrance of all affected by kidney disease.  The first three candles reflected on different journey’s within transplantation and were lit by donor family member, Leah Carter representing Remembrance; transplant recipient Claire Moore representing Thankfulness,  and Denis McNeill, currently on a waiting list for a kidney transplant, representing Hope.

Special guests included the Deputy Lieutenant, Dr Frank Sellar with his wife Claire, who brought greetings and congratulations from the Lord Lieutenant Dame Fionnuala Mary Jay-O’Boyle DBE DStJ;  Deputy Lord Mayor, Councillor Michelle Kelly, and NIKRF’s Ambassador chef and food writer Paula McIntyre MBE.

Medical staff included NIKRF Patron and retired Consultant Nephrologist Dr James Douglas; Professor Peter Maxwell, Emeritus Professor of Renal Medicine, QUB and former NIKRF medical  advisor;  Dr Aisling Courtney, Nephrology Consultant, Clinical Lead for Kidney Transplantation, Belfast;  Dr Michael Toal, Specialist Trainee in Renal Medicine and NIKRF current Research Fellow.

Rev Jim McCaughan, and his wife Alison, launched a new annual bursary in memory of their daughter, Dr Jenifer McCaughan, Consultant Transplant Nephrologist at the Belfast City Hospital and director of the Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics Laboratory in Belfast.  This award will enable the chosen applicant to present their kidney or H & I research at a prestigious conference.

Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund (NIKRF) is the leading voluntary organisation raising funds for life saving research into the causes and possible cures for kidney disease in the province.  90% of funds go directly to research.   The charity also promotes organ donation and fully supports the new Opt Out legislation becoming law in Spring 2023.

It is a great honour and privilege to be Chair of NIKRF as we celebrate our 50th Anniversary. From its inception in 1971, I want to pay tribute to all who have volunteered with the charity and to all our former and present Research Fellows.  Looking forward to the future, NIKRF have spent the last two years rebranding, welcomed our first Ambassador, and our new mascot, Bella the Kidney Cow.   Exciting times are ahead as we work tirelessly to support this important research and NIKRF are proud to be part of the journey.

Susan Kee, Chair

Dr James Douglas, Patron of NIKRF says ”As a consultant formerly involved in the treatment of kidney failure for over thirty years, I can personally attest to the enormous importance of the Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund in the development of renal medicine over the past fifty years.  By its support of research fellowships, it has helped to create a reservoir of medical, surgical and scientific knowledge and skill, without which the development of renal services in the province would have been much more difficult.  By its promotion of organ donation, it has contributed to improved public understanding and increased transplantation rates.  By its inventive and effective fundraising, it has been a beacon of public generosity.  By its voluntary and dedicated nature, it has made an unforgettable contribution to the motivation of all involved in renal medicine, dialysis, organ donation and kidney transplantation.