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Altruistic donation - Susan's story

I had decided to investigate the possibility of becoming a living kidney donor after hearing about it on a radio programme in 2014. 

I lost my mum when I was a baby and grew up wishing someone could have helped her, so I saw this as a way of giving that chance to someone else.  Thankfully I’ve been blessed with a healthy life, but I would accept a kidney if I needed one, so donating seemed like the natural thing to do.

I suppose in life people give back in lots of different ways.  This for me ticked the boxes in terms of something I could do and from the moment I’d made the decision, I never questioned it.

Luckily after assessment I was told that I was a suitable candidate and from that moment, I never looked back.  It was a year from my first enquiry to the operation going ahead in July 2015.

The only time I felt guilt was when I left my husband and daughter on the day of my surgery, as I knew they had a terrible day ahead of them.   My husband was understandably quite reluctant at first, but as soon as he saw how passionate I was about it, I had his full support.

The surgery went well.  I remember the doctors describing it was ‘uneventful’, and it was followed by a similarly uneventful recovery.  I was hoovering the day I got home from the hospital.

I found out before the surgery that the recipient of my kidney was going to be a child.  I wasn’t prepared for how much I’d think about that person in the weeks and months that followed.  I knew the transplant had been a success, but understood that I might never know more.  When I received a letter from the child’s grandfather, it blew me away.  It was like the icing on the cake. 

That letter meant the world to me, and if I hadn’t heard another thing it would have been enough.

Since then,  I’ve been fortunate to found out that the recipient is a little girl called Meghan who is now seven and as a result of her transplant has been able to go back to school, learn to ride her bike and has become a competent swimmer.

It’s like a fairytale and I feel lucky and privileged to have been part of it.  I’d do the whole experience again tomorrow if I could.  It’s up there with getting married and becoming a mother and will stay with me for the rest of my life.