A decade as a kidney transplantee

Life is full of milestones, trials and tribulations. We all face them. We overcome them. Sometimes we fail and other times we conquer. These events shape us, a hypothetical ebb and flow of cause and effect.

Today is a significant day and I dedicate this post to my Dad, my family, my wife and the staff of St George’s, St Helier and Frimley Park hospitals. So many people to mention, all of them heroes in their own right. Ten years ago today, my Dad and I underwent what is known as a live kidney transplant. I thank my Dad for what he did for me that day and the incredible team at St George’s. It was an extraordinary procedure and thanks to Jiri Fronek the talented Czech surgeon and his team (quite a big team I believe they were too), I am still a living, breathing, fully functional human being, apart from when I have my moments but we are all allowed those aren’t we!

On the day they booked out two adjacent operating theatres where for more than seven hours, whilst under general anaesthetic, we lay oblivious to the fact that there were incredible things happening, high risk, yet well rehearsed, highly experienced and with hundreds of such operations under their belts, we couldn’t have wished for a better team of specialists led by Jiri.

My Wife and Mum were facing the toughest day of us all, as patients we had the easiest bit (almost!) and for the medical staff, just another day at the office you could say!

My Mum facing the fact that both her oldest son and husband were in the operating theatre undergoing cutting edge surgery, with the thoughts going through their minds of what could happen if it went wrong and at one point they had to deal with a member of staff who couldn’t help them with the rather abrupt, what do I care response of, “I don’t know! How long is a piece of string”. All they wanted was some form of progress report, as we had already been down for several hours by that point. It must have been hard, really hard for them, so much so, neither my Dad nor I could really comprehend. After all that story was told some weeks later and Jiri himself phoned my Mum to ask if she could identify the staff member. She asked what would happen to the person concerned. Jiri merely responded with the stern response, “I take such things very seriously”.

However despite all of that and a few hiccups in the first few weeks when we thought at a point it (the transplant) may have rejected, it all worked out. My Dad left hospital after 3 days and convalesced for a month. I left after 7 days and had to take 3 months off work to recover, everything was painful, I could only walk short distances and gradually built my strength back up in the months that followed.

You may have never read my old blog posts, they are all here on this site and I wrote most of them on an old Sony phone of some sort, it was just before iPhones were released, the letters all grouped on single keys but I faced quite a lot of boredom and sleepless nights. I became quite adept at writing with the most awkward tool known to man. I read some of them back recently, some entries were a hard read, since I didn’t spare many details!

Dedications go to the following for their support both in the past and current:

Dr Micklethwaite, Dr Peter Andrews, Christina Ho, Jiri Fronek, Dr Jonathan Kwan, Dr Mike Bending and all of my fellow transplantees, many of whom I’ve stayed in touch with – Sue Beesley, The Spensleys, Kevin Lofthouse to name but a few. I would also like to remember those people whom we have sadly lost along the way, Scott Morrow, Margaret Simpson and Debbie Debono. All of whom were fighters and some of the most inspirational people I’ve ever met.

It is important that we all help find ways of combatting kidney disease, so that other people can be given a second chance to live their lives. So many sadly die whom could have had a transplant and then there are those who are dependent on dialysis who could swap the hours they spend on machines for a better way of life. Do you have a donor card? If you don’t maybe you should consider it?

Happy 70th birthday NHS, I quite literally love you! I would be dead if it wasn’t for you and the great people you employ as your nurses, phlebotomists, surgeons, consultants, porters, ambulance transport drivers. I could go on and on singing your praises forever. We must protect you and all that you do for us.

Finally let me finish on a high note. Life is precious. It isn’t always easy. However it is full of love and joy that makes it all worthwhile. Here is to the next ten years of the greatest gift ever given.

Thanks Dad for a life twice given.

Love Nick.

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