ANTHONY Polomka understands the gift of an organ donation first-hand.
The Como resident’s life has been radically improved since receiving a kidney transplant five years from a stranger.
“I had inherited a genetic disorder called polycystic kidney disease, which means you get cysts growing in your kidneys that displace the healthy tissue,” he said.
“So over time the cysts get bigger and your kidney function starts to fail. It occurs in one in 800 people, so it’s one of the more common genetic disorders.
“It just happened over a period of time that I went from healthy to my kidneys dlowly deteriorating.
“It had a remarkable effect on my life; in renal failure it’s like you are walking through a fog and you’re tired all the time.”
Mr Polomka ended up with renal failure, which meant he was on dialysis at home.
“It takes about six hours to dialyse, to get the machine running, hook yourself up for four hours and then take yourself off again,” he said.
“You survive on dialysis, you don’t really live.”
Mr Polomka’s life was dramatically changed when he received a call that it was time for a kidney transplant.
“We were in Dwellingup at the time on holidays and I got a call at 12.30 at night saying ‘would you like a transplant’ and it was so surprising, nerve-racking and exciting,” he said.
“We woke the kids and told them ‘it’s on’ and the staff wanted us at Royal Perth Hospital at 6am, so we had to pack our gear and drove back to Perth in the middle of the night.
Mr Polomka said the difference in his quality of life before and after the operation was “chalk and cheese”.
“You go from surviving to really thriving; it’s been a remarkable change,” he said.
“There are consequences. You are immunocompromised because they use drugs to stop your body rejecting the transplant, so you always have to take those pills and you can’t eat raw food or soft cheeses, but that’s a minor irritant compared to the functionality.
“You are back working full-time and you are fully engaged with your family. We have been travelling together so you are able to be normal.
“Anyone who is willing to donate, I have enormous respect and admiration for because it’s such a great benefit to people, it’s such a generous gift.