‘Around May 2018 my wife and I were informed that her cousin was having trouble with her kidney function and would need a transplant soon. She has already had a double lung transplant due to other health conditions.
As soon as I was informed, I offered to be a living donor for her without a second thought. Not only is she a very kind and funny person, but she is also very dear to both my wife and I, so if there any way I could help I was going to do so. My mother-in-law had also offered to put herself forward as a living donor. My wife couldn’t because she was pregnant with our second child.
Over the next year, I was subject to a plethora of test to determine if I was a good direct match for her or not, and to assess the general health of my kidneys and myself. These tests included numerous blood tests, MRIs, ECGs, Ultrasounds, X-rays, Stress Tests etc. After the most intensive day of tests, I was unable to be in the same room as my pregnant wife because I was too radioactive. Some of the tests had to be retaken as the machines were not calibrated to someone of my height. It turned out that I am perfectly healthy but was not a good match to be a direct donor; I shared too much DNA with the lungs she has and the doctors were concerned that if she received my kidney, her body could reject it and her lungs.
When it was found that my mother-in-law and I were not ideal matches, we were all entered into the donor pool. This is a scheme where a living donor and a recipient enter as a pair with the idea of being matched with another donor and recipient to basically swap kidneys. Donor A’s kidney would go to Recipient B and Donor B’s kidney would go to Recipient A. On the second run of the donor pool, my cousin-in-law and I were matched in a more complex chain involving 2 other donors.
Since this match, I have had yet more test, have had to meet with an impartial consultant to ensure that I am not being paid or blackmailed into donating my kidney. I have also spoken to various members of the kidney donation team about the short and long term effects on my health. I won’t even be able to pick up my 1-year-old daughter for a month after the operation.
Throughout the whole process, I have remained quite calm and relaxed about the situation and what I am doing. However, I thought that these talks about the details would make me more anxious or even give me cold feet about donating (I can decide to opt-out of the donation process right up to when I’m being wheeled into theatre). The opposite has actually happened; they have filled me with more confidence about what I am doing.
On Friday 17th January I will be donating my kidney to a complete stranger so that my wife’s cousin can receive the kidney that she desperately needs. Friends and family (although very supportive) have asked how I feel about the potential impact on my health. A consultant has told me that based on my lifestyle, I shouldn’t have any kidney-related problems until I’m around 85 years old. I will also be having annual check-ups for life, so if something does go wrong it will be discovered fairly early on. I’m sure that in the morning before surgery I may be feeling more nervous, but overall I’m very pleased to be able to help someone who is in such need.
Josh has also received his long service award for recently celebrating 10 years here at Clague. So a huge congratulations and we will see you back here in 6-8 weeks time!
Posted on | by Tim Wolfe-Murray