Lifesaving GP meets the boy who received his kidney

Tom Higgs, now 12, was given a kidney by Havant GP Roger Sutton
Tom Higgs, now 12, was given a kidney by Havant GP Roger Sutton
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HIS life is dedicated to making people feel better, but this time GP Roger Sutton took it one step further and saved a life.

Dr Sutton, 53, who practices at Staunton Surgery, in Civic Centre Road, Havant, donated his kidney to a complete stranger.

Lifesaver: Dr Roger Sutton donated his kidney to a stranger

Lifesaver: Dr Roger Sutton donated his kidney to a stranger

And the recipient of the altruistic kidney was 12-year-old Tom Higgs, from Ruislip, in Greater London.

Dr Sutton underwent the procedure at Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham, during a planned sabbatical from his GP work.

He said: ‘I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when the idea to donate a kidney first came to me.

‘I suppose what started out as a thought grew into a quiet conviction that it was the right thing to do – a chance to say thank you for all the great things that have happened in my life.

‘Looking back, I can see there’s been a bit of a “renal thread” running through my life.

‘My grandmother lived for 35 years after having one of her kidneys removed.

‘I watched a kidney transplant operation when I was a medical student. Twenty years ago a friend of mine had a transplant after developing renal failure.

‘My wife Debbie, who is a dietician, was for many years part of a renal dietetics team.

‘As a GP, I have seen just how important organ donation is and how many lives have been saved through transplants.’

Dr Sutton had the operation in 2011, but only met Tom this year, after the pair exchanged letters through their transplant co-ordinators.

Tom had suffered from a rare type of kidney disease, atypical haemolytic uraemic syndrome since the age of five. It causes kidney failure together with high blood pressure.

He needed dialysis every single night for five years.

His mum Vicky said: ‘Our lives have changed so much, it’s hard to believe.

‘Before the transplant, we had to wait for Tom to come off the machine so we could get together and open our presents around the Christmas tree.

‘On his birthdays, we usually brought his presents up to his room. Christmas is so different now, and Tom is definitely looking forward to the celebrations this year.’

As reported, QA is ahead of the game, and performs more altruistic kidney donor operations compared to any other UK centre.

Dr Sutton’s consultant surgeon, Sam Dutta, said: ‘The number of altruistic kidney donations has been on the increase here in Portsmouth over the last few years.

‘Since the start of this type of donation in 2007, we have seen 31 altruistic donations. This is one of the most selfless acts a person can do and we know that a healthy person can live a perfectly normal life with one good kidney.

‘In 2012, Portsmouth contributed the largest number of altruistic kidneys in the country.’