I’VE SEEN PEOPLE DIE WAITING FOR A TRANSPLANT
Rachel cox, 52, a nurse at University hospital in Kilmarnock, lives in Troon, South ayrshire, with husband Iain, 58, a bagpiper, and their two daughters, aged 18 and 17. She donated her kidney in November 2017. She says:
I WORK in the renal [kidney] unit and I’ve seen so many people die waiting for a transplant. It is heartbreaking and I want to help them all: that’s what made me want to donate my kidney.
Iain thought I was nuts when I mentioned it to him, but we talked it through together. We discussed what would happen if one of our daughters needed a kidney and I’d already given mine to a stranger, but thought that chance was pretty remote. No one else in my unit had done this — some thought I was crazy, while others were supportive. My professional hat did come off with my donation though: suddenly I was a patient and I was petrified of going under the knife and worried about things going wrong.
I was so much more aware of the risks working with transplant patients myself — but it didn’t stop me doing it.
I am a rare blood group (AB positive), which limited the number of people I could donate to, so instead of going into a chain, a direct match was found.
My daughters were worried about me, and it was emotional when they came to see me 24 hours after the operation (I hadn’t wanted them to see me like that straight afterwards and it was still hard to hold back the tears). The operation went fine and I was told that my kidney was transplanted successfully, to a female — the only detail I was given — and I’ve never heard anything from the recipient.
But I’m fine about that; I actually don’t mind. I didn’t do it to get a thank you from anyone. I was raring to go again four weeks later, and back at work within eight weeks.
Since the donation I’ve done 12 marathons and four ultra marathons. I’ve found that donating my kidney has given me something — more confidence in myself to achieve these goals.