Over the last nine months Grace Kelly's life has changed dramatically having donated a kidney to her husband, Seamus and having retired from her position with the HSE on February 22.
Originally from Laghey, Grace attended national school in Ballintra before attending the convent in Ballyshannon.
She completed her education in the convent in 1981 and entered a career in nursing in Letterkenny in the same year.
“I have worked with the mental health services in Donegal since 1981,” she said.
At that time, nurses acquired their education and training in St. Conal's hospital in Letterkenny.
Grace qualified in 1984 - which was a great year for Grace as it was the same year she married Seamus.
Grace and Seamus met for the first time in the Milford Inn and they have enjoyed a wonderful life together.
Grace donated a kidney to her husband, Seamus, last year, surgery was carried out on May 14, and proved successful.
Seamus had chronic renal disease.
Grace said: “We went underwent surgery on May 14 in Beaumont. So, that was a bigger decision than the decision I made to retire.”
Grace didn't hesitate in donating her kidney to Seamus when she heard that she was compatible with her husband.
She said: “When you know that a kidney would give him a better quality of life, there really is no decision.”
The operation was a success and Seamus is doing well.
Grace said: “It's all about quality of life and long may it last.”
Grace has not entirely retired from work.
Being the first Advanced Nurse Practitioner for Dementia Care in Ireland, Grace has a lot to offer in terms of support, training and advice to those who care for older people with dementia.
She will focus on her private practice which will focus on dementia training and consultancy.
Most of her work will be carried out in nursing homes and areas such as this.
However, she will do this on a part-time basis as she and Seamus now hope to travel and enjoy life to the full.
“I am blessed to be able to retire and work part-time,” Grace said.
Grace has an abundance of education, having obtained a Masters and post graduate qualifications.
Grace knew from a very young age that she wanted to care for others and become a nurse.
“I am blessed to have had such a fabulous career and I have been privileged to work with so many good people. I am also privileged to have been allowed to be part of people's lives and had the opportunity to guide and support them,” she said.
Grace enjoyed working in many roles over the course of her long career in the HSE.
Each day presented new challenges for Grace but she took them in her stride, overcame them and enjoyed every day of her working life.
She said: “When I look back, I have never had a bad day at work.
“It may have been challenging, at times, but I always enjoyed it.”
Grace's work colleagues will miss her bright and warm personality in the hospital.
“I will be out there. I won't be working five days but I will not be far away,” she said.
Grace was passionate and motivated in her work and is greatful for the support she received from management over the years.
Grace will now focus on her family and enjoy life with Seamus. She will continue to attend the Alzheimer's Café which takes place in the Silver Tassie once a month.
Grace has been attending the event since it was first established.
“I have been involved with that event since it was launched,” she said.
The future looks bright now for Grace, Seamus and her family.
Grace hopes to travel more, spend time with her family, enjoy life with her husband and work part-time over the coming years.
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