Plan backed

Kid­ney oper­a­tion helped to save his life

Rutherglen Reformer - - Front Page - Dou­glas Dickie

A man who needed a kid­ney trans­plant has backed plans for a soft opt-out sys­tem of or­gan do­na­tion in Scot­land.

Alan Docherty re­ceived a new kid­ney in 2014 and hopes a new sys­tem could help save the lives of oth­ers.

A Cam­bus­lang man whose life was saved by a kid­ney trans­plant has hailed the de­ci­sion of the Scottish Gov­ern­ment to in­tro­duce a soft opt-out sys­tem of or­gan do­na­tion.

Alan Docherty, 42, of Macarthur Wynd, was di­ag­nosed with IgA nephropa­thy in his early 20s.

This kid­ney dis­or­der oc­curs when an an­ti­body called im­munoglob­u­lin A (IgA) lodges in kid­neys. This re­sults in in­flam­ma­tion that, over time, may ham­per the kid­neys’ abil­ity to fil­ter waste, ex­cess wa­ter and elec­trolytes from blood.

In essence the im­mune sys­tem does not recog­nise the kid­neys as part of the body and starts killing them.

Al­though his con­di­tion re­mained man­age­able for a num­ber of years, Alan’s kid­neys even­tu­ally failed and he re­quired 18 hours of dial­y­sis a week from the age of 37.

That was un­til Au­gust 21, 2014, when he fi­nally re­ceived the news that a donor had been found.

Just weeks af­ter his oper­a­tion, Alan backed leg­is­la­tion pro­posed by Labour MSP Anne McTag­gart for an opt-out sys­tem which would al­low parts of an adult’s body to be used in trans­plants in the ab­sence of ex­press per­mis­sion, al­though the fam­ily’s wishes would still be taken into ac­count.

That was de­feated at the time in the Scottish Par­lia­ment, but af­ter a con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod dur­ing which 82 per cent of re­spon­dents backed the plans, new leg­is­la­tion will now be brought for­ward.

Alan said: “For peo­ple who are still on the trans­plant list it is a good thing and even most peo­ple I know think it should be an opt out sys­tem. It ac­tu­ally costs the NHS more money to keep peo­ple on dial­y­sis, as I was, so if you can get more peo­ple on the trans­plant list it will save money and give peo­ple a bet­ter life.

“Noth­ing moves fast in pol­i­tics so I’m not sur­prised it’s taken this time. Some peo­ple strongly dis­agree with it but they still have the op­tion to opt out.

“Maybe peo­ple are un­sure and don’t think about things like this, es­pe­cially younger peo­ple. I was 22/23 when I was di­ag­nosed and it wasn’t some­thing I’d pre­vi­ously thought of.”

When Alan was first di­ag­nosed, his kid­neys were work­ing at 75 per cent of full ca­pac­ity.

How­ever, it was a num­ber of years un­til the or­gans ac­tu­ally failed.

He tried to hold down his job as a lorry driver while un­der­go­ing six hours of dial­y­sis, three times a week, first at the Royal and than at the Vic­to­ria In­fir­mary.

The strain also took its toll on his

fam­ily – wife Zasha, 41, and their four daugh­ters, Natasha, 22, Chloe, 20, Meghan, 14 and five-year-old Zowie.

Alan said: “Be­fore I started dial­y­sis ev­ery­thing was nor­mal. But the six months be­fore it I was tired all the time and started to show symp­toms.

“The first year of dial­y­sis was mur­der. I was al­ways fa­tigued and I was hav­ing to go into hos­pi­tal all the time while hold­ing down a job.

“That sur­prised peo­ple, they thought be­cause I was on dial­y­sis I couldn’t be work­ing, but when you have a mort­gage to pay and four chil­dren you don’t have a choice.

“I would work for half a day and then go into hos­pi­tal for dial­y­sis. Once I got home I was just sleepy.

“It an­noyed me that dial­y­sis was not con­sid­ered a dis­abil­ity, so you didn’t get a blue badge for the Royal. The park­ing was only for four hours yet I was in for six hours so you al­ways had to risk a ticket.”

Alan’s road to re­cov­ery was not a sim­ple one. While a kid­ney from a live donor can be run­ning nor­mally af­ter a few weeks, Alan’s came from some­one who had died, mean­ing the jour­ney was a lot longer. But it has trans­formed his life and he be­lieves oth­ers will now ben­e­fit thanks to the opt-out sys­tem.

Alan said: “The first cou­ple of years af­ter my trans­plant were rough for me. Some peo­ple are back to nor­mal within six months but I was one of the un­lucky ones. It’s only been in the past year that I have felt the ben­e­fits. I had to be cut open another three times and had other op­er­a­tions.

“Mine was not straight­for­ward but now I am back work­ing full time and we can plan week­ends away and hol­i­days, which we couldn’t do be­fore when I was on dial­y­sis.

“I still take tablets, about 14 a day for the rest of my life. That’s the down­side, but I need them to keep the kid­ney work­ing.

“I was get­ting to the stage where I was so bad they just had to get me a trans­plant, maybe just a cou­ple more weeks and I wouldn’t be here.

“It’s made a mas­sive dif­fer­ence. You don’t re­alise how much of a life changer it is, not just me get­ting a kid­ney trans­plant but I as­sume for peo­ple with heart and liver trans­plants it’s the same.”

I am back work­ing full time and we can plan week­ends away and hol­i­days Alan Docherty

Life changing Alan in hos­pi­tal af­ter his kid­ney trans­plant with daugh­ters Chloe and Natasha

Fam­ily man Alan Docherty pic­tured just weeks af­ter his kid­ney trans­plant in 2014 with wife Zasha, and daugh­ters Meghan, Chloe, and Zowie

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