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Liz’s Story

“Some people are just built differently, and you’re one of those people. You just like helping people. 

This was the reassurance that Liz needed when her family were struggling with her determination to donate her kidney to someone completely unrelated to her. 

Blood tests were the first step and two weeks later Liz got a call to say she was a match. The transplant team asked her to take a couple of weeks to think about it, Liz explains: “I said I don’t need two weeks, I will do it. And they said, don’t you want to go and talk to your family? And I said no, because I know what they’ll say. It’s my body and I’ve decided I wanted to do this.” 

There followed six months of testing, which Liz passed with flying colours. Then after one delay due to her recipient having an infection, the transplant date was set.

Liz’s own family had big concerns; such strong feelings that Liz went to a psychologist to talk it through before the operation. At the time, she was so relaxed she couldn’t understand where they were coming from.  

“I didn’t see the serious side to it,” she says. “I’ve had quite a lot of operations, nothing major, but shoulders and back and all sorts of bits and bobs. Hospitals don’t bother me at all, I actually find them fascinating places and I’d worked in the NHS as well so I know how wonderful it is. So none of it really scared me, although everyone else around me was terrified! I just didn’t get it.” 

“In hindsight, looking back I do see now they were worried. But I felt so strongly about it. I went to see a psychologist who said ‘I just think it’s so you, it’s just you Liz, it’s who you are, don’t feel bad about it, your family will eventually come round when they see you well after the operation, it will all go back to normal.’ And it did, it was as simple as that. None of them held grudges, it was just relief.” 

The operation itself was fairly smooth sailing. Liz woke up feeling “pretty horrid” – as is common among donors at the start. But within a few days she was home and built her strength back up gradually. Apart from a spell back in hospital to treat an infection, which she’d been warned to look out for, her recovery went well. 

“I just did some gentle walking, I ate really well and looked after myself. I healed really quickly. I haven’t really had any side effects. My kidney function can yoyo a bit, but they never get worried by it. 

“I was very sporty and made sure I got really fit and strong before I donated, I knew that would help my recovery. I did a marathon four months post donation, not in a very quick time, but I thought that was pretty good. Everyone thought I couldn’t do it, that I would put myself at risk. But I drank loads of water, I walked a bit of it and I was fine. I think that’s my mentality in life really anyway, just to crack on.” 

Four years on, Liz is doing well, and continues to take on multiple sporting challenges. She has continued interest on helping patients, and, since her operation, has spent time working has on a dialysis ward (which she hopes to go back to), giving her an even greater appreciation for the difference a transplant can make. She remains a huge advocate for living donation and spreading the word so more people consider becoming a donor. 

“It’s really, really lifechanging for you as a donor,” she says. “It just gives you a different perspective on life, just to value what you’ve got, appreciate everything that you have, your health. I’m so lucky, I have been able to donate. There are many people who can’t do it and I can.” 

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