Keeping it in the family – parents donate kidneys to son
A renal patient at St Helier Hospital has received not one, but two priceless, selfless gifts from his parents – kidneys.
Ben Abbott, aged 27 from East Grinstead, has a condition which affects his kidney function. Ben’s mother donated a kidney to him following organ failure in 2010, but after seven years, sadly the kidney failed last year. That’s when Ben’s father Steve stepped up, flying over to the UK from Canada to donate his kidney through the kidney sharing scheme. The kidney sharing scheme allows donors and recipients who are not a compatible match (because of blood type, for example) to register in a national scheme to achieve compatible transplants with other pairs. This generous donation allowed Ben to receive his second transplant from another donor through the scheme.
Ben’s story is one that shows the life changing power that both organ donation and a supportive family can have on a person. On his experience, Ben said: “I am very pleased that I can live a normal life with my condition (thanks to this transplant) without the need for dialysis. I can do pretty much anything anyone else can do, as long as I keep myself healthy and hydrated – hence why I have joined the gym and play football regularly!”
Ben has recovered well following the transplant, and has a very positive outlook on life. He said: “I am a very positive person (I get that from my Mum), so I will never let something like this get in the way of me living a normal, happy life. Perhaps some people might not see things the same way as me, as everyone is different, but I think staying positive is the key to keeping me healthy, so I would advise anyone living with a difficult medical condition to not let it get to them. Life can be hard sometimes, but with a positive outlook, supportive friends and family and a fantastic medical team, we can come out the other side fighting.
“I was lucky enough that both of my parents were willing and able to donate kidneys either directly to me or through the sharing scheme, but unfortunately not everyone is so lucky and the waiting lists for transplants in some areas of the country are very long. It’s for this reason that I would encourage anyone who is healthy, willing and able to sign up to the organ donor register, it only takes a few minutes, and you could potentially be saving someone’s life.”
Dr James Marsh, Joint Medical Director and Consultant Nephrologist at Epsom and St Helier, said: “Ben’s story just goes to show how life changing the gift of organ donation can be, and how the share scheme is making such a difference to people across the UK. I’m sure there have been some difficult and worrying times along the way for Ben and his family, but I am so pleased that we have been able to support them and that they are all well now.
“I would like to remind those who are thinking of joining the organ donor register to discuss this decision with their families. It is important that your loved ones are aware of your decision to donate, so that should the time come, there is less of a chance of complications occurring and your wishes to donate can be fulfilled.”