A HOSPITAL is celebrating 10 years since it performed its first-ever live kidney donation operation – and is encouraging people to sign up to become kidney donors.
Mary Dixon was the first person to become an altruistic kidney donor at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham, as usually kidney donations come from people who have died.
Paul Gibbs, consultant surgeon at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, said that while dialysis costs the NHS £25,000-£30,000 per year per patient, the altruistic kidney operation only costs about £10,000.
Kidney donations from someone who has died will last about 12 years while kidneys from a live donor can last for more than 25 years.
Mary said: ‘I knew about kidney donation from my days as a student nurse because I attended a lecture on the subject.
‘I thought at the time “I could do that” but back then you could only give a kidney to a close family member.
‘Years later there was an article in the newspaper about a donor meeting a recipient and the impact it had on his life.
‘My friends thought I was a bit gung-ho about it, but I did a lot of research from as far as Australia and New Zealand, as it was such a new thing in the UK.
‘By the time I picked up the phone to the hospital – I was sure I wanted to do it.’
Mary spoke to Anna Trevellick, one of the living donor transplant co-ordinators at QA, and met her in January 2008. It wasn’t until the December of that year the operation took place.
Mary added: ‘I had to have a lot of tests, to make sure I was both physically and psychologically fit to have the operation, but that didn’t put me off.
‘I had an open kidney donation but I was still back at work after 12 weeks. It’s all changed now though so the recovery time is less than half that. I felt a little tired but not under the weather and now I never really think about it. I go to the gym, do weights and indoor cycling at least twice a week.
‘I only found out I was the first altruistic kidney donor at QA after the operation!
‘I’ve not changed and I am still fit and healthy with just one kidney. I did the Great South Run the year after the operation just to prove it!’
‘I did it because I could. I have seen the effect that being on dialysis has on a person and their whole family.
‘All I know is that it went to a lady and that it is still functioning well after 10 years. I would do it again – no doubt about it.’
Anna, a living donor transplant co-ordinator, described Mary as an inspiration and added: ‘She would hate me saying that because she’s so modest about it all.
‘I met with her really regularly in the year running up to her operation and we checked on her every few weeks afterwards.
‘She would never blow her own trumpet but talks about what she’s done as she knows that there must be other people like her out there who are interested in giving an altruistic donation.’