Jackson given the gift of life
At 23 years old, Jackson Print feels like his life is just beginning.
He’s suffered from chronic kidney failure his entire life, and for the past three years the Ashburton man has spent nine hours every night hooked up to a dialysis machine.
But the kindness and incredible generosity of a complete stranger has changed all that. Someone out there – an anonymous live donor – has given Print a new kidney, which for him was literally the gift of life.
Print was diagnosed with dysplastic kidneys when he was just two weeks old. His kidneys weren’t growing, and he was facing a life of battling chronic kidney failure.
Growing up, it didn’t affect his day-to-day life – his parents made sure of that. Jackie Print said if her son was going to get anywhere in life, he just had to get on with it and persevere.
‘‘It was just a matter of how long, through medicine, they could help keep them going, and when they couldn’t, dialysis,’’ she said.
There were countless hospital visits and pills, but Print continued to live his life. But when he was 20, that changed. He had almost completed a car painting apprenticeship when a blood test revealed the time had come.
The week he completed the final papers of his apprenticeship, he underwent surgery to insert a tube into his stomach for dialysis, and went onto the waiting list for a new kidney.
Print’s two brothers put their hands up to donate kidneys, but both were tested and neither were able to. Life became a waiting game.
He gave up car painting due to dropping energy levels and took a job sorting for a courier for five hours at night, six days a week, and would sleep during the day.
Nine hours of dialysis every night meant there was no time for a social life; he had little energy for anything anyway.
Last August, Print’s health took a further turn for the worst. His brother came home at lunchtime and found him having a seizure on the bathroom floor, leading to four days in intensive care. It emerged he had had a series of mini strokes, but he recovered with only short term memory loss to show for the experience.
Then, in March, he received the call that changed his life. A donor had been found; an anonymous live one.
Unlike many donor recipients who had to move quickly because the donor was deceased, Print had plenty of time to absorb what was about to happen. Transplant day was booked in for May 29.
‘‘It took a while for it to sink in, that it was going to happen. I didn’t really get my hopes up until I was in the hospital,’’ he said.
He doesn’t know if the donor was a man or a woman, their age, or where they are from. But the Prints are hopeful that one day they might find out, so they can thank the person who gave their son life.
‘‘I just can’t even believe it. The person just needs to know how grateful we are, the whole family. It’s given Jackson a decent chance at a normal life, and to be healthy,’’ Jackie Print said.
He spent 10 weeks in Christchurch, living at Ranui House, having regular post-op checks but all signs were good, and he is now home and a new man.
Gone is the tired and drained 23-year-old. He is now full of energy, and can’t wait to get back to working on the race car that’s sitting in his garage. He’s even contemplating getting back on the
‘‘The person just needs to know how grateful we are, the whole family.’’
Jackson Print's mother, Jackie.
cricket field, and might head for his first swim in three years.
‘‘Now he will get up in the morning and he wants to make breakfast, whereas before everything was an effort. Now it’s good to see that he’s got life in him,’’ Jackie said.
‘‘If I had to leave this world now, it’s ok, because I know he’s going to be ok.’’
Print’s kidney transplant was the 15th in Canterbury so far this year, but only the second from an anonymous live donor.
Christchurch-based clinical director of the National Renal Transplant Service Dr Nick Cross said over the last 10 years, Canterbury had averaged about 20 to 25 kidney transplants per year. Around 60 per cent were from live donors, but only about 10 per cent of the live donors were nondirected donors, or people who came forward to donate without any recipient in mind.
According to Kidney Health New Zealand around 2800 people are currently on dialysis in New Zealand, with about 500 new patients starting every year.
The longest surviving kidney transplant in New Zealand was 42 years, as at December 31, 2015. There were 168 kidney transplants that had been functioning for more than 20 years, and 30 kidney transplants that had been functioning for more than 30 years.
How long Print’s kidney will last, no one knows, but he’s just thankful for the stranger out there who changed his life.
Jackson Print received a new kidney from a live anonymous donor.