Sarah: I’m so grateful I’ve been able to donate my kidney to a stranger

Many years ago I worked for Social Services and had two clients who both required organ transplants. One, an older gentleman who had had a kidney transplant which had enabled him to continue working; the other, a young man who was waiting for a heart transplant. He died before a heart became available leaving a wife and two young children.

Headshot of Sarah smiling

Since then I have known people who have had kidney transplants so know what a life-changing experience it is for them. I also know mothers who wanted to donate for their children and the great disappointment when they were not able to. I always wondered why only family members could donate so when I picked up a Give a Kidney leaflet about non-directed living kidney donation I immediately knew that was what I was going to do.

Unfortunately the Covid pandemic slowed things up a bit but once I had my initial meeting with the transplant team, things moved very quickly to get my various tests done. One of the team at Give a Kidney was able to talk me through the various stages, which was a great help as I had not told anyone except my husband what I was doing.

I found the whole process of going through the tests interesting and everyone was so friendly and encouraging but I never felt pressurised into going ahead with the operation.

I was originally going to donate into the UK Kidney sharing scheme to trigger a chain of transplants, but unfortunately the chain was unable to proceed. Instead, I donated directly to an individual on the transplant waiting list.

On the morning of my operation, my living donor nurse visited me on the ward and walked down to the operating room with me and visited me each morning while I was in hospital. I felt great the day after the operation but unfortunately was sick the following day and nauseous for a few days afterwards.

Once home my recovery was quite quick and a few months later I was back to doing everything I had done previously. The response from friends and family since the operation has been very positive and having been told that the kidney had been successfully transplanted into the recipient I am so pleased and feel lucky that I am well enough to have been able to donate a kidney.