IT MAY not be a traditional birthday present, but it’s one that has saved Bridget Malcolm’s life.
Her sister Claire Sharp, 49, donated her left kidney to Bridget, on the day she turned 51.
Bridget, of Gosport, was diagnosed with acute polycystic kidney disease around 18 years ago.
Although it was being managed through medicine, in February last year, part-time care worker Bridget was told she needed a kidney transplant.
Today is the start of National Transplant Week, and the sisters want to share their emotional story, so more people will sign the organ donor register.
Bridget said: ‘I have very good intentions of doing things, but I got tired.
‘You think you can do something, but you don’t have enough energy.
‘I used to see my consultant and go through all the usual things, and would go home and say things were ok, and there were no changes.
‘I would go every six months, but slowly it turned to every four months then three months. I was told to have a transplant before it got to dialysis stage.
‘I still thought no, because I felt fine. That’s the thing I couldn’t deal with, I felt fine in myself.’
It was only when a letter dropped through from Queen Alexandra Hospital’s transplant team, that Bridget realised she couldn’t ignore it any more.
Her parents were unsuitable candidates, and so Bridget’s siblings were told the news. Her younger sister Claire, of Fareham, decided to get tested.
Claire, a supermarket cashier, said: ‘I was devastated when I found out.
‘Because we’ve always been so close, the only person she felt she could speak to was me.
‘We didn’t to start with, but slowly I started asking questions, and spoke to my family.
‘I read things on the internet, and what the operation involves, and it’s quite a major thing to go through.
‘My family were all very supportive, and I told them I wanted to be tested.
‘It was a very emotional journey, and they were supportive of my decision.’
Claire turned out to be a perfect match, and last week donated her left kidney, in an operation that The News was invited to document.
Both are now recovering in QA.
Bridget said: ‘I can start leading a normal life and get back to normal.
‘I’m so proud of Claire, and we both encourage people to find out more about organ donation.’
Becoming an organ donor makes a huge difference
A KIDNEY specialist says acute polycystic kidney disease accounts for a tenth of people on dialysis in Portsmouth.
Alison Hughes, consultant renal nephrologist at Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham, said: ‘Cysts develop on the kidney from about puberty, and disrupt kidney function.
‘It then deteriorates the kidney, so eventually a transplant is needed.
‘It’s one of the most congenital renal abnormalities – about 10 per cent of people on dialysis will be because of this.
‘Becoming a donor can make a huge difference to these patients.
‘It gives them a chance to lead a normal life.’