Published Sunday, 18 November 2012
Brolly (left) and Finnegan after the operation. (© PA)
Brolly, a father of five, pledged to give his organ to Shane Finnegan after he fell ill during a under 10s coaching session for St Brigid's GAC, Belfast.
The GAA pundit recalled:"One Sunday morning he went down on his hunkers. He had never looked healthy - but he had kept it very private.
"In fact to the best of my understanding, his children didn't even know that he was ill until all of this came out - he had to go to Guys [Hospital in London]."
Speaking on the Marian Finucane show on RTÉ Radio 1, Joe admitted that he at first thought his friend was hungover.
The answer he received from Shane upon enquiring if he was alright was that he had total kidney failure.
"I need a kidney," Shane told him.
Joe, a well respected barrister by profession, replied that he would give him the organ he needed to desperately save his life.
He continued saying that Shane had "a lot of complications from his kidney disease" and after years of dialysis treatment, needed a specific match and there was "only two or three per cent chance."
When tests showed Joe was a match, the men made the trip to London.
"I never had a moment of anxiety," he said, discussing the aftermath of making the decision saying it was "not his personality" to do so.
Although the transplant was an initial success, problems soon arose.
What Joe described as "amazing" and "a total life experience" initially went well - he was told the physical transplant was successful.
The former Trinity College scholar said he felt "elated" upon being told that there had been "no complications."
"If you can think to yourself, if you know deep inside - look I have saved someone's life for such a small sacrifice, someone is walking around because of me, some family is not going to experience the bitterness of an early death.
"Well, that is surely an insurance policy for anything bad happening to you ever again."
Five days after the operation, they were told the kidney was safe.
But, then problems arose.
"The tone became more urgent over the subsequent days," he explained. "We were starting to lose control of the situation."
Joe said that he returned home to Belfast and one day later, he got a phone call from Shane's distraught wife.
The kidney had been removed. Receiving the news, he says, left him miserable.
"It's a miserable situation for me, but for Shane's family...for such a small thing to destroy it all."
However, despite this Joe maintains the process was "a small sacrifice" for a living donor to make.
Shane is now back at home in Belfast recovering and is receiving dialysis treatment again.