IT WAS a life-changing trip to Brighton for two friends.
Maria Gillingham, suffered from chronic renal failure and needed a kidney transplant.
On her birthday last year, Maria, 59, took a trip to Brighton, with close friend Jacqui Dyer.
Maria, of Fareham, said: ‘I was diagnosed with the condition about 12 years ago.
‘I was going to have a transplant six years ago, but then cancer got to me.
‘After I recovered from that, I was on the waiting list again.
‘Having renal failure meant the toxins weren’t leaving my body, and it affected me everywhere.’
Maria, who works as a general nurse at Gosport War Memorial Hospital, and a palliative care nurse for The Rowans Hospice, was on home dialysis.
‘I was able to have some independence because I had dialysis at home, but the condition was getting worse,’ added Maria.
‘I was telling Jacqui about it on the coach to Brighton. Then at the end she said she would get tested.’
Although community nurse Jacqui, 50, of Stubbington, was not a match, the friends were told about pool pairing.
It meant Jacqui’s details were kept on file, and when a suitable recipient was found, her kidney was donated to a stranger. At the same time, from the same centre, a match was found for Maria, and transplanted.
Jacqui said: ‘I was disappointed when I was told I wasn’t a match.
‘It’s always easier when you’re donating to someone you know, rather than a stranger. But then I thought about it and realised that two people can be saved this way.
‘I was giving a kidney to my friend indirectly.’
Both friends are doing well since their operations, which took place in Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham, last month, and are urging people to find out more about pool pairing.
Sam Dutta, renal consultant at QA, said: ‘Pool pairing has been going since 2007, and Portsmouth has done 11 of them.
‘There are currently 219 pairs registered in the country.
‘If there isn’t a blood or tissue match, then you could be paired with someone else from another centre. And the chain can be between many centres. Everything is co-ordinated carefully, and can help many people.’
NATIONAL Transplant Week is the annual UK-wide awareness week to increase understanding of organ donation.
It aims to encourage more people to join the donor register.
In Fareham, 18 people are awaiting an organ, in Havant 12 people are on the waiting list, Gosport has 16 and Waterlooville has 15.
In Portsmouth 32 people are waiting for an organ.
The News is running special reports all this week to encourage more people to sign the organ donor register.
The annual awareness week is run by NHS Blood and Transplant.
This year its theme is Pass It On.
According to NHSBT, 95 per cent of families agree to donation if a loved one has discussed their wishes and is registered.
But this drops to only 46 per cent when donation wishes aren’t known.
To ﬁnd out more call 0300 123 2323.