Organ donation

Di - Interview 31

Age at interview: 58

Brief outline: Di donated a kidney to an anonymous recipient in 2010, when she was 58. She found the experience very enriching but would have liked better communication and more information.

Background: Di is single and has an adult son. Ethnic background / nationality' White British.

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Di donated a kidney to an anonymous recipient in 2010, when she was 58. She was aware that living kidney donation could take place between family and friends and felt certain that she would be willing to donate a kidney if the need arose. A friend in America had donated a kidney altruistically and Di said she felt ‘bowled over by the whole idea’. She did some research on the internet and found out that, in the UK, it was not legal to donate a kidney to someone who was not a relative or friend. However, whenever she heard or read about the subject, it always stood out in her mind.

Later, Di developed cataracts in both eyes and was made redundant at work. While off work, she watched a news programme on the first altruistic non-directed living kidney donation in the UK. This is when a healthy person, after thorough testing, has surgery to donate one of their kidneys to a patient who needs a kidney transplant.

Di did some more research on the internet and was pleased to learn that altruistic non-directed kidney donation had been made legal in the UK. She was now even more determined to help someone have a better quality of life and went to see her GP. He contacted the hospital specialist nurse [co-ordinator], who phoned Di and they made an appointment for an initial consultation.

Di said the assessment and tests took eight or nine months in total, a process she did not know much about beforehand, including how long it would all take. She found the long wait between tests stressful and did not know why she was waiting or when she would have the next test. For one particular result, she waited six weeks. Di said that, although she started having tests in 2009, the donation did not take place until 2010, sixteen months later.

With hindsight, Di said she would have liked ‘more information as to how many tests and what they would be at the start of evaluation; a better updating of time scale during the evaluation process and more information regarding recipient matching. This would have made the whole process less stressful. Also, offering to let me speak with an existing donor would have helped as it was a very lonely experience with no one to talk to who understood.’

All the test results showed that Di was healthy and eligible to donate a kidney. The first potential recipient turned out to be an incompatible match, as did the second. Di had not been prepared for this and found it extremely upsetting and stressful. Fortunately, the third person was a good match.

Di spent three days in hospital, where she also met a patient waiting for a kidney / pancreas transplant and his wife, a meeting that had quite an impact on her. They talked about the effects of kidney failure on his life and were very grateful to Di for being a donor and making such an important difference to someone else’s life.

The surgery went well and, back at home, Di’s ex-husband helped look after her during the first week. Her son also lived nearby and was able to help if she needed anything. Di said she took great care to look after herself and gave herself as much time as she needed to recover. A follow-up appointment six weeks after surgery confirmed that she was doing well.   

Soon after surgery, Di received a letter from the recipient of her kidney. She was delighted to hear that, since the transplant, he had felt ‘fantastic’. Di described the whole process as extremely enriching and is now involved in raising awareness of living kidney donation through the media and her blog'  http'//


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