Jack­son given the gift of life

Selwyn and Ashburton Outlook - - FRONT PAGE - ERIN TASKER

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.

ERIN TASKER/STUFF

Jack­son Print re­ceived a new kid­ney from a live anony­mous donor.

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