Organ donation

Wallee - Interview 09

Male
Age at interview: 58

Brief outline: In 2007, Wallee donated a kidney to a friend ' a Dutchman who lived and worked in Greece. The surgery took place in Holland. Both Wallee and his friend have been well since then. Wallee found the experience enriching and fulfilling.

Background: Wallee is single and works as a music events co-ordinator. Ethnic background / nationality' White Irish.

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In 1998, Wallee got a job as a chef in one of the Greek islands. Here, he became friends with a colleague who he was, later, to donate a kidney to – a Dutchman who lived and worked in Greece. Wallee worked in Greece for four seasons and left in 1997, holidaying there occasionally and meeting up with his friend when he was there.

In 2004 when he visited Greece, he met up with his friend who was, at this time, very ill but didn’t know what was wrong. In 2006, Wallee got an email from his friend, telling him that he’d been diagnosed with kidney failure. He would be going back to Holland, where he would be having dialysis several times a week.

Around this time, Wallee heard two very inspiring and moving stories about living kidney donation. He said, ‘I was completely stopped in my tracks that someone could be so generous… It was very moving. And the thing that struck me was I thought, well, you can actually donate your kidney to somebody outside your family. You can actually. And I thought to myself, there’s no reason why I couldn’t do it.’ Wallee emailed his friend and offered to donate a kidney. Most people he knew advised him against this, but Wallee felt strongly that it was the right thing to do.

Wallee had various hospital tests and, on two occasions, flew to Holland where he had further tests. These showed that he was in good health and a compatible match with his friend. His friend was now on dialysis, which he had for eight or nine months in total. Before Wallee went to Holland for the surgery, his friend made lots of practical arrangements, including their accommodation after the operation, Wallee’s travel insurance, flight costs and rent. Sadly, the day before Wallee and his friend were admitted to hospital, his friend’s mother died.

Wallee was in hospital for a week and then went to stay with friends who lived a short distance from the hospital. At first, he found it hard to eat but reflected on the whole experience. He said, ‘I just remember having…a deep experience about the whole thing, just something deep because I agreed to do something, and I trusted in something. So something else took place, which has remained with me ever since actually.’

A week later, Wallee’s friend was also discharged from hospital and they convalesced together. Wallee said his friend was very quiet and withdrawn at first and this could have been because of the vast number of medications he’d been prescribed. They both made good progress and are very well now.

When the doctor gave Wallee permission to travel again, he went to Copenhagen for a week and then to Greece for two weeks. Back in the UK, he returned to work and resumed his life. He now has annual follow-up appointments and feels very well. Wallee found the whole experience enriching and said, ‘I gained from it in a funny way… It’s almost if you can help another human being, you’re both getting a gift.’
 

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