A Woodhall Spa woman has become one of just a few hundred people across the UK to donate one of her healthy kidneys to a stranger on the transplant waiting list.
Alison Keegan (59), a part time teacher, donated a kidney in Nottingham City Hospital late last year.
Now, Mrs Keegan is urging others to consider doing the same as part of World Kidney Day this Thursday (March 10).
She said: “I remember hearing through the media that it was possible to donate a kidney to someone in need of one and couldn’t get it out of my head.
“It seemed to be the right time in my life. My children are grown up and independent and as yet I have no grandchildren.
“After discussing it with my husband, I contacted my nearest transplant unit. Shortly after, I had my first appointment, which assessed my medical history and had long chat about the process with the transplant coordinator.
“I then told my parents and children what I was planning to do. Once I had explained the process and answered their questions they all gave me their blessing to go ahead.
“I am pleased to say that the surgery was very straightforward for and also for my recipient (I only know it is a woman). Apart from feeling tired for a couple of weeks and taking it easy, I carried on pretty much as before.
“I went back to my part time teaching job five weeks later. But the best bit was hearing that my recipient is doing really well and to quote my transplant coordinator ‘You have changed her life’! Job done.”
For Alison, the process of donating took about a year from first enquiry to the actual operation, as potential donors have to undergo a thorough testing procedure to check they are fit and healthy enough to donate safely.
Chris Burns Cox, chair of Give A Kidney, a charity which aims to raise awareness of non-directed altruistic kidney donation said: “Hearty congratulations and many thanks to Alison who has become one of just over 450 people in the UK to donate a kidney in this way.
“There are more than 5500 people in the UK currently waiting for a kidney transplant and around 300 people die every year in need of a kidney because, sadly, not enough organs are available from deceased donors.
“At Give a Kidney we aim to raise awareness of the fact that humans only need one kidney and fit, healthy people can consider giving a kidney ‘altruistically’ – ie to a stranger, considerably improving the recipient’s quality of life and their life expectancy.
“Living kidney donation has been taking place in the UK since the 1960s and is now widely-practised across the UK.
“Although the number of altruistic donors is on the increase, there is still a long way to go before we make a real dent on the length of the waiting list.”
People wishing to consider giving the gift of a kidney to someone can find out more at www.giveakidney.org.