Chris Boustead, aged 41 from Sussex, received a kidney from an altruistic donor in 2011, after waiting more than three years.
“My transplant operation gave me back the joy of life. I had got used to life on dialysis and thought I was getting on all right. I was surrounded by people in the same position and had become almost institutionalised.
“I didn’t think that getting a new kidney would make much difference. But without realising it, the whole of my life had become a struggle – a struggle to get up in the morning, to walk to the station, to get to work. And then three days a week I had to leave work at 4.00pm, to go to dialysis, and I would not get home until about 10.30pm.
“But instantly after the operation, I had much more energy. The doctors had warned me that it would take a few days for me to get my appetite back, but I was starving as soon as I woke up. The joy of food and the joy of life had come back.
“These days I bounce out of bed at 10 to 6.00am, and am happy to do it. I am still enjoying the novelty of it.”
Chris’s kidney problems began in his 30’s when he had a bad attack of gout. “I am missing an important enzyme but did not realise it. The attack of gout affected my kidneys, though I was not aware of that at the time.”
Then in November 2007 he was rushed to hospital with Legionnaire’s disease. “I nearly died, to be honest. I was unconscious for about 10 days.
“The episode knocked out my remaining kidney function.” After Chris recovered he had to go onto dialysis. He was on peritoneal dialysis for about three months, but it kept getting blocked, so he then went on to haemodialysis.
Three members of his family volunteered to donate a kidney to him, but each in turn was found to be unsuitable. His mother volunteered first, but she was found to have an irregularity of the blood vessels to her kidneys. Then his father came forward, but he had some kind of scarring on his kidneys.
Lastly his brother volunteered. He was an excellent match but was found to have an irregular heartbeat, for which he required prompt treatment.
Chris was pleased that the investigations had resulted in his brother’s condition being spotted and treated but was beginning to think that he was the unluckiest person in the world.
He was put on the waiting list for a kidney, and he did get one call about a deceased donor organ but was warned that he was the second choice for it, and it didn’t come to anything.
When he was offered a transplant from an altruistic donor he was delighted, for two reasons: it meant that he was given three weeks’ notice of the operation, which meant that he could plan the interruption to his work, as an accountant. Secondly he knew that a transplant from a live donor would be in excellent condition and was likely to last longer.
The operation went well. He was in hospital for only six days and was back at work after three weeks.
“I didn’t think that the operation would make that much difference, but the difference has been incredible,” he said.