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Shaun’s Story

I donated a kidney to my dad 10 years ago, aged 25. To me, it was a no brainer.

Shaun’s Story

We knew that my dad was ill. He never went into the details, but we knew it was something to do with the kidneys. We used to play golf together, but as he got worse he didn’t have the energy for it and had to spend more time resting. At his worst, he couldn’t even walk to the shops.  

The doctor told us that dad’s kidney function was dropping, and that he’d been added to the donor register. As soon as he said that, I immediately offered to donate my kidney. My dad made it clear he wasn’t asking, but that didn’t matter. The moment I knew it was an option, my mind was made up. 

At the time I didn’t know much about kidneys at all, just the basics that I still remembered from school. I knew that you could live with one – my cousin has only had one since she was born, and she’s had no kidney issues. Other than that though, I didn’t know much at all. 

I reached out to the living donor team in Salford. They were absolutely brilliant and talked me through the whole donation process to make sure I knew what I was getting into and what would be involved. 

The tests to see if I was able to donate took longer than I’d expected. They started in August, and I didn’t get the go ahead until March. They weren’t exactly hard, but there were a lot of them and they went on for quite a while. At one point I had to be on a 24-hour blood pressure monitor at home, as they realised my blood pressure kept elevating from worry whenever I was in a hospital, so they wanted to check me in my day-to-day life.  

The operation itself went as well as it possibly could have. Throughout our whole journey, all the healthcare professionals we spoke to were fantastic at giving us information and explaining everything to us. The anaesthetist asked me what music I liked and put it on for me. It was easy!

The first few days after surgery were pretty difficult. The donation team had been great at explaining what to expect and I knew the facts of it all, but you don’t really know how your body will react until you actually experience it. It was very painful at first and I had so little energy. I was used to having the energy levels of a relatively healthy 25-year-old, so it was a bit of a shock. It made me realise – this must have been how my dad felt before the operation. That recovery period put me in his shoes. That time really hit home what he’d been through.

After the operation, another doctor came to me who had been at my operation. I had so many questions I wanted to ask – will my dad be okay? Will his body reject the kidney? What happens now? She explained everything to me, and I got the epic news that the operation had been a success and my dad was doing well. It was incredible to hear he say that, words can’t do it justice!

My dad was in a separate bay of the hospital and we were able to see each other the next day. When we did, the emotions were through the roof! It meant so much that I could be there for him during that time, that we were going through that journey together.  

The pain went away in a few weeks. I still remember my first sneeze while I was recovering, as it was Summer and I suffer from hay fever. It was so painful! But with each day, I felt noticeably better. I was back to work in a couple of months, though I’d arranged a phased return to ease myself back in. In the beginning, I was absolutely shattered after a few hours. I’d say it took me about a year before my energy levels felt back to where they were before. I wouldn’t change a thing and don’t regret donating at all, but it’s important people know that the full recovery can take time.  

Dad’s recovery was incredible. Within a week his energy levels improved and he started feeling better in himself. I got my dad back. He got married later that year, and had a new lease of life. Soon enough he was playing golf three times a week – a huge difference from someone who couldn’t walk to the shops! 

The one bit of advice I’d give someone considering living donation is to get as much information as you can about living kidney donation. It’ll really help you to stop worrying about things just because you don’t know what to expect. The one thing I was worried about was how I’d be looked after by the healthcare staff, when actually they were all amazing. They all made me feel so special!  

During my donation journey, I didn’t look for any community or read stories of people with experience in living donation. In hindsight this is something I wish I’d done. There are definitely people out there who can help and explain what they went through. 

Donating a kidney can be scary and a bit lonely at times, but in the end I was just excited about seeing my dad get better. The difference my donation made to him and the pride I take from being able to give him his life back makes it all worth it a million times over. 

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