Keith Parsons, 52, from Plymouth received a kidney from an altruistic kidney donor in 2009. Here he describes what a difference it made to his life.
“I’ll never forget the first time I ate liver and onions after my transplant. Nothing has ever tasted as good.” It was one of Keith’s favourite meals and one that he had not been allowed to eat when he was on dialysis. He was also able to eat bananas again, go to work regularly, do overtime, and cycle to work in half the time it took before the operation.
But most important of all was that it gave him back a normal family life.
“The transplant didn’t just turn round my life. It also turned round life for all my family,” said Keith, who has a wife, a 23-year-old daughter and a 17-year-old son, and a four-year-old grandson.
“Because I don’t have to go to dialysis three nights a week after work, I have much more of a social life with my family.
“My energy levels are also back to normal. I can cycle the eight miles to work in about 25 minutes instead of the 45 minutes it used to take. I have only taken two days off work in the 18 months since my operation, whereas before I had to take a lot of time off.”
Keith has become so fit since his operation that in the summer of 2010 he took part in the UK Transplant Games in Bath, and in 2011 he took part again, this time in Belfast.
“Last year, I took part in the 5k and 10k bike ride, in the 100 metres and 200 metres sprint and in the ball throwing event. I came second in three of the categories. But I have been training hard since then and hope to do even better this year.”
He has written twice to the person who donated his kidney to him, sending him letters through the kidney transplant co-ordinator, because he does not know his name or details.
“I can’t thank the guy enough. He has given me back my life,” Keith said.