Organ donation

Annabel - Interview 28

Age at interview: 64

Brief outline: Annabel donated a kidney to a friend in 2007, when she was 60. She and her friend are both well. Annabel is now involved in setting up a group that aims to raise awareness of living kidney donation.

Background: Annabel is a health writer and journalist. She is married and has two adult daughters. Ethnic background / nationality' White British.

Audio & video

Annabel donated one of her kidneys to a friend in 2007, when she was 60. She knew that her friend had polycystic kidney disease, a genetic condition characterised by multiple cysts in both kidneys. Being a health writer, she was also aware that people can live healthy lives with just one kidney.

At a party, when the conversation arose, Annabel half-jokingly mentioned to her friend that she could donate one of her kidneys to him. His wife was not a compatible match and his three children were unsuitable because the disease was genetic. Later, Annabel discussed it more seriously with her friend and her own family, and both Annabel and her friend decided to have tests to find out whether she’d be a suitable donor. Her two daughters admired her decision but were also anxious about her. Her husband, a GP, was supportive and could answer some of the medical questions she had.

Annabel said the tests and waiting for results took much longer than she’d expected – over a year – but they showed that she was a compatible match. She was re-tested on one occasion as doctors thought there could be a problem, but this turned out to be nothing.

In October 2007, Annabel had surgery to remove one of her kidneys. She felt nervous beforehand in case there were complications brought on by the general anaesthetic. In total, she spent about three days in hospital and had five weeks off work to recover.

Annabel recovered well and now has annual follow-up appointments. Back at work, she was surprised by the reactions of her colleagues. She said, ‘It was wonderful coming back to work because I hadn’t told many people. I’d told a couple of people beforehand, but people heard about it. And everybody was so lovely and warm about it when I got back, and people kept giving me hugs and kisses and, you know, champagne. And it was very, very nice. People were quite moved by it. And it does make you feel very good because it’s such a useful thing to do.’

After a few problems with infections and a prostate problem, Annabel’s friend was also fit and well. He and his wife have since travelled to America. Annabel said she receives flowers from him annually on the day of the operation.

Shortly after her recovery, Annabel wrote an article for the British Medical Journal about her experience of living kidney donation. Later, she and her friend featured in the Daily Mail and their story was published. Annabel is now involved in setting up a group that aims to raise awareness of living kidney donation'


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