PENSIONER Nicholas Crace has made history by becoming the country’s oldest living kidney donor in an operation that took place in Portsmouth.
The 83-year-old is also the oldest altruistic donor – which means he has donated the organ to a complete stranger.
Surgeons at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, performed the three-hour procedure.
Former charity director Mr Crace decided to donate his kidney because he wanted to help others after the death of his wife.
He said: ‘After my wife passed away last summer I decided I wanted to give something back.
‘I’ve led a long, relatively easy life and have good health.’
Mr Crace has given blood 57 times, but donations can’t be given after the age of 70.
Mr Crace looked into bone marrow donations, but was turned away because the cut-off age is 40.
‘After I was told I couldn’t do that, my thoughts turned to donating a kidney,’ added Mr Crace.
‘I cannot remember quite what put the idea of being a living kidney donor into my mind, but I thought it might be worth investigating.’
Mr Crace went to QA where tests revealed his kidney functioned as well as someone in their 40s.
The operation took place earlier this year where his kidney was given to the first suitable recipient, whose identity has not been revealed – even to Mr Crace.
Paul Gibbs is a lead renal consultant at QA, who helped perform the operation.
He hopes Mr Crace’s story will pave the way for more people to come forward as altruistic donors.
QA has carried out the second-highest number of such donor operations – 11 in five years – in the country.
Mr Gibbs said: ‘The youngest donor at QA has been in his 20s. The majority are aged 45 to 60.
‘This operation has been a great honour for us to do and there are people who are genuine heroes.
‘Eighty is old, but it’s more about the person’s fitness level.
‘We’ve had people in their 20s and 30s come in and aren’t able to donate. Mr Crace is exceptional with his kidney as he is fit. But people that are retirement age could be encouraged to donate.
‘Often when they’re 60-plus they will have grown-up children and have time on their hands.
‘Age is not a barrier – people are living longer and healthier.’
Donation to a stranger is the ultimate gift
altruistic donors are people who give a kidney to a person they have and will never meet.
The procedure is done via the NHS, which allocates the organ to a suitable person on the waiting list.
So far, 105 operations have been carried out nationally – 11 of which have been done at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, making it the second-highest centre.
The operation was made legal in 2007. Beforehand live donors could only give their kidney to someone if there was an emotional or genetic attachment.
The charity Give A Kidney – One’s Enough works to raise awareness of altruistic donors.
Charity chairwoman Annabel Ferriman said: ‘Altruistic donors are very special people.
‘They have the imagination to understand the suffering people go through on dialysis, while waiting for a transplant and the courage and generosity to do something about it.’