Irish artist Graham Knuttel is celebrating this weekend after receiving a kidney from his wife Ruth.
From his hospital bed in Beaumont, Knuttel said: “They were a perfect match. This is cupid. It is love. Words cannot express how I feel. It’s just too difficult. I guess now I have to behave when I go home.”
The surgery comes four years after he was admitted to St Vincent’s Hospital with kidney failure. At that time he was also waiting for a new liver, which he received in 2020.
This weekend Knuttel was full of joy after the successful operation on Monday.
“Hospitals have done very few transplants in ages because of Covid. But now they are working at full speed and we got the call two weeks ago to go to the doctors. They told me I could have the operation on Monday. I was a little scared – I’m 68 – but I was also relieved.
Regarding the doctor’s concerns, he said: “They were a bit concerned because the liver transplant wasn’t going so well a few years ago and I had a lot of problems after the operation, but this time all the staff were delighted that it had worked as well as it did was.”
Speaking of his current condition, he said: “They put me on this stuff to make me go to the bathroom so I have to climb out of bed every five frigging minutes but – other than that – I feel great. I can eat salt again and I can drink milk again and I eat a pretty good stew and I don’t have to have everything cooked like a baby anymore. The food is actually pretty good here in Beaumont. I guess you could say I’m a Northsider now.”
On how it feels to receive the gift of life, he said: “Wonderful. I have an awful lot of catching up to do. I am most looking forward to painting again because it was very difficult to do while on dialysis – which I have been doing for three and a half years. The first thing I’m going to do is draw a surgeon.
“I’ve seen enough of them to last me a lifetime.”
Knuttel also urged people to sign up for organ donation so they have a chance to save someone else’s life.
“Of course everyone should be an organ donor. In Spain it is a legal requirement that you opt-out of the program.”
The country’s policy is that a patient is assumed to consent to organ donation unless they indicate otherwise.
He shared his main lesson from this experience: “To enjoy life. I would advise people to keep it simple and enjoy each day as it comes.”
Renowned for his bold colors and fiendish depictions of the human condition, his canvases have garnered him admirers around the world, including Robert De Niro, Sylvester Stallone, Bertie Ahern and Joanna Lumley, as well as Swiss Bank Corporation, Goldman Sachs International and Saatchi & Saatchi.
Synonymous with the excesses of the Celtic tiger, he was seen as the wild child of the Irish art world when his health changed in 2018.
Speaking of Sunday independent in June 2020, he described how he was struggling under the weight of his illness: “I immediately slacked off. I stopped being creative. I only painted to paint. I had no vision of where I was going. i was so low Time stood still.”
Recalling the rock bottom he experienced before receiving a new liver, he says: “I was in intensive care and I’d had enough. I was waiting for a liver and my kidneys were gone. I didn’t want to continue. I asked them to turn off the machines.”
At the time, the doctor told him to “sleep about it,” and Knuttel says, “the next day I had changed my mind. You have to be positive if you want to survive. But yeah, that was definitely the lowest.”
As a result of the pandemic, the number of transplants has declined over the past two years.
There were 104 kidney transplants last year, down from a previous average of 128. Liver transplants fell more sharply in 2021, from a five-year average of 61 to 35.
To apply for an organ donor card, text the word “Donor” toll free to 50050 or call 1890.543.639.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/its-amore-knuttel-gets-new-kidney-from-his-perfect-match-wife-41675067.html “It’s amore”: Knuttel gets a new kidney from his “Perfect Match” wife