Give and take

Three of th­ese peo­ple needed a new kid­ney, and had a loved one will­ing to do­nate – but who wasn't a match. Then a life- chang­ing scheme paired them with a stranger. A year later, we bring them to­gether for the first time. Re­port by Rachel Wil­liams

The Guardian - Weekend - - Front Contents - Main por­traits by David Yeo

We bring six mem­bers of a kid­ney do­na­tion chain to­gether for the first time

On the morn­ing of 13 Septem­ber 2017, Martha My­ers was be­ing pre­pared for surgery at north Lon­don’s Royal Free hos­pi­tal. Stayin’ Alive was play­ing in the back­ground. The anaes­thetist had asked what she would like to hear, and she’d re­quested the Bee Gees – calm­ing, “happy mu­sic” that took her back to her youth in Colom­bia. Mean­while, 130 miles north, in Not­ting­ham City hos­pi­tal, Ryan Mace grap­pled with a pair of green sur­gi­cal stock­ings, wor­ry­ing that his gown would re­veal his bot­tom as he walked to the­atre. He’d wanted to do some­thing like this since he was a teenager and now that the mo­ment was here, he was ready. Back in Lon­don, south of the river at St Ge­orge’s hos­pi­tal, Steve Ab­bott had wo­ken up feel­ing anx­ious. But his was a good ward to be on, full of high-spir­ited foot­ball chat that kept his mind off the day ahead. When the time for the op­er­a­tion fi­nally came, he squeezed his son Ben’s hand be­fore be­ing wheeled away.

Martha, Ryan and Steve were in per­fect health. But over the course of the morn­ing, sur­geons at the three hospi­tals tus­sled gen­tly with fatty tis­sue and chopped through blood ves­sels to re­move a kid­ney from each of them. The or­gans were packed in ice and whisked down cor­ri­dors, then handed to couri­ers ea­ger to get on the road.

Later that day, the the­atre staff were back at work. Martha’s kid­ney had ar­rived in Not­ting­ham, where it was trans­planted into Ryan’s best friend, Lee Ben­nett. Ryan’s kid­ney went down the M1 to south Lon­don, and was given to Steve’s son Ben. And Steve’s kid­ney made the short jour­ney across the Thames to be stitched into Martha’s hus­band, David. The cir­cle was com­plete.

This is the strange magic of kid­ney do­na­tion chains. If you need a trans­plant in the UK, you can join 5,000 other peo­ple on the na­tional wait­ing list for a kid­ney from a de­ceased donor. Or, if you’re lucky, a part­ner, rel­a­tive or friend might of­fer you one as a liv­ing donor (for many peo­ple, as long as they have been fully as­sessed, it is pos­si­ble to live healthily with only one kid­ney). But if you and they are in­com­pat­i­ble by blood group or tis­sue type, a trans­plant may not be pos­si­ble.

In­stead, you and your would-be donor can join the UK Liv­ing Kid­ney Shar­ing Scheme. Four times a year, in what’s known as a match­ing run, a so­phis­ti­cated al­go­rithm works out chains link­ing in­com­pat­i­ble pairs such as Martha and David, Ryan and Lee, and Steve and Ben. Reshuf­fled into com­pat­i­ble pairs, ev­ery­one in the chain who needs one ends up get­ting a kid­ney – not from their friend or loved one, but from a stranger.

The process re­lies on lo­gis­ti­cal mas­ter­mind­ing by staff at the UK’s 23 trans­plant cen­tres, as much as it does on the mind-bog­gling com­puter sci­ence it’s built around. Ide­ally, all the op­er­a­tions in a chain are sched­uled to take place on the same day, within eight weeks of a match­ing run, and only af­ter ev­ery­one has been painstak­ingly as­sessed to en­sure the matches will work and they are well enough for surgery.

It’s a cu­ri­ously un­der-recog­nised scheme, among the gen­eral pub­lic at least, but its im­pact is grow­ing ev­ery year. The first UK kid­ney ex­change took place in 2007, with a two-way swap be­tween four peo­ple. In 2017/18, 127 of the 1,010 liv­ing kid­ney trans­plants car­ried out – one in eight – came about as a re­sult of the shar­ing scheme. It’s also a British suc­cess story: the UK far out­strips any other coun­try in Eu­rope in this field, car­ry­ing out about half of all the trans­plants made pos­si­ble by shar­ing schemes.

Just over a year af­ter their surgery, five of the six mem­bers of one chain have agreed to meet to talk about their ex­pe­ri­ences and be pho­tographed for the Guardian. (The sixth, Steve, lives in the US and joins us via Face­Time; later he will be dig­i­tally added to the mag­a­zine’s group shots.) Though some pa­tients and donors matched in chains end up ex­chang­ing cards or let­ters af­ter the trans­plants are com­plete, only a tiny pro­por­tion ever meet: anonymity is an im­por­tant part of the process.

“Nice bunch of good-look­ing peo­ple!” says Martha as she and David come into the photo stu­dio, where Lee and Ryan are wait­ing with their part­ners. As the writer who ar­ranged this, I had been ap­pre­hen­sive about the meet­ing, fear­ing it might →

be awk­ward. But when I in­tro­duce 43-year-old Lee to Martha, 60, as the man who got her kid­ney, she grips him by the hand, pulls him to her in an em­brace and be­gins to sob softly. “Nice to meet you,” he says, a broad smile on his face. “I’m look­ing af­ter it for you.” They get chat­ting. Was he ever on dial­y­sis, Martha asks: she sup­ported her hus­band through nearly nine years of it be­fore his first trans­plant in 1999; when that kid­ney be­gan to fail, she was de­ter­mined to do­nate one her­self, rather than see him so ill again. No, Lee says, but he was on the brink: “You came up trumps just in time.”

Ben slips into the room 10 min­utes later, all but un­no­ticed as the group ex­change re­cov­ery sto­ries and praise for the NHS. He and Ryan, his donor, greet each other with a warm blokeish­ness, a firm hand­shake and an ex­changed, “All right?”

There’s an easy ami­a­bil­ity in the room. David, 70, is an am­a­teur ex­pert on all things kid­ney-re­lated and quickly es­tab­lished as the un­of­fi­cial el­der states­man of the group, while Ben, 27, is af­fa­ble, dry-wit­ted and hun­gover. Their con­ver­sa­tions re­veal a shared un­der­stand­ing of ill health and the joy that suc­cess­ful treat­ment can bring.

“With my first trans­plant,” David an­nounces to the group, min­utes af­ter ar­riv­ing, “I knew it was from a woman be­cause the minute I started pee­ing I was sit­ting down on the toi­let.” They talk about the thing they all re­mem­ber about the day of the surgery: one of the donors had mis­un­der­stood the in­struc­tions to drink only clear flu­ids and en­joyed a cup of tea with milk in the morn­ing, caus­ing an un­nerv­ing last-minute de­lay. “I was lit­er­ally yards away from the op­er­at­ing ta­ble,” Ryan re­mem­bers. “All I could think about was Lee.”

The cul­prit, it’s soon re­vealed, was Martha, win­ningly ir­re­press­ible whether she’s hold­ing forth on the need for greater kind­ness in the world or sniff­ing back tears. “I love her,” Lee’s wife Karen says to me at one point. “I want to take her home.”

Away from the bus­tle of tea be­ing made and the pho­tog­ra­pher ar­rang­ing his shots, Lee and Ryan sit side by side, legs crossed iden­ti­cally over their knees. They have known each other only five years, but con­sider them­selves best friends. Both grew up in vil­lages near Not­ting­ham, and later worked out that they had played rugby against each other at school. “We’ve got the same silly sense of hu­mour, sim­i­lar in­ter­ests. We just hit it off,” Ryan, 42, says. “He’s such a re­laxed per­son – I’ve learned a lot from him.”

But in the time they’d known each other, Lee, who runs a kitchen de­sign busi­ness, had been get­ting in­creas­ingly ill. At the age of 28, soon af­ter re­turn­ing from hon­ey­moon, he dis­cov­ered he had poly­cys­tic kid­neys, an in­her­ited con­di­tion that his mother, who died when he was 18 of a brain tu­mour, had suf­fered from, too. Karen would have given him a kid­ney if she could, but al­ready knew she had only one good one her­self. Ryan, who works for the Royal Air Force in re­cruit­ment and se­lec­tion, was quick to step in. “For me, it was a no-brainer,” he says. “The ex­perts told me I was go­ing to be fine, so why wouldn’t I try to help some­body? See­ing how Lee’s health was de­te­ri­o­rat­ing, there was never a ques­tion in my mind.”

He cried af­ter see­ing Lee for the first time post-surgery. “It was just re­lief, I think,” he says. “The big thing for me was his eyes. As we’d got closer to the date of the op­er­a­tion, they were quite dark and sunken. When I saw him af­ter­wards, it was like a dif­fer­ent guy.” He has kept his green sur­gi­cal socks; look­ing at them makes him smile. Lee still finds it hard to grasp that a friend would do what Ryan did. “It’s taken me back to be­ing twen­tysome­thing again,” he says. “It feels like a mir­a­cle cure.”

The main busi­ness of the kid­ney is to re­move tox­ins and ex­cess flu­ids from the blood and turn the waste into urine; when they don’t, those things re­main in the body, caus­ing symp­toms in­clud­ing high blood pres­sure, ex­treme tired­ness and per­sis­tent headaches. Left un­treated, kid­ney fail­ure is even­tu­ally fa­tal. Aside from a trans­plant, dial­y­sis – which fil­ters the blood us­ing ei­ther a ma­chine or the in­side lin­ing of the ab­domen – is the main treat­ment; but it only par­tially com­pen­sates for lost kid­ney func­tion, is dis­rup­tive to daily life and can cause un­pleas­ant side-ef­fects. Trans­plants save and trans­form lives.

“Kid­ney dis­ease and dial­y­sis af­fect ev­ery­thing that we would take for granted in life,” ex­plains Lisa Bur­napp, NHS Blood and Trans­plant’s lead nurse for liv­ing do­na­tion. “They can im­pact

‘As long as Ben got his kid­ney and he was fine, you could have put mine in a pie and cooked it, for all I cared’

on your work, your abil­ity to have chil­dren, what you can eat and drink, where you go on hol­i­day.” And while the av­er­age wait for a kid­ney from a de­ceased donor has fallen to just over two years, a liv­ing kid­ney is prefer­able – be­cause it comes from a healthy per­son and can be trans­planted in a planned fash­ion. It’s of­ten de­scribed as the Rolls-Royce of trans­plants.

I joined Bur­napp at Guy’s hos­pi­tal in Lon­don on a sunny morn­ing ear­lier this year, as she looked through the re­sults of a match­ing run car­ried out the day be­fore. The al­go­rithm, de­vel­oped by Glas­gow Uni­ver­sity’s school of com­put­ing sci­ence, iden­ti­fies sev­eral dif­fer­ent types of swap. There are cir­cu­lar ex­changes be­tween ei­ther two or three pairs, but also chains started by al­tru­is­tic donors – peo­ple who sim­ply want to do­nate a kid­ney to any­one who needs it, rather than for some­one close to them. Th­ese are gamechang­ers, Bur­napp told me, be­cause one of them can en­able up to three trans­plants to take place, with one kid­ney end­ing up with a pa­tient on the main wait­ing list.

Al­tru­is­tic donors on the reg­is­ter used to be given the chance to opt into the match­ing runs. But from this year, in a bid to in­crease trans­plant num­bers, they have been added au­to­mat­i­cally – un­less there’s a high-pri­or­ity, dif­fi­cult-to-match pa­tient on the wait­ing list for whom they’re a “golden ticket”.

We peered at Bur­napp’s lap­top: the match­ing run had been trig­gered at 10.39am plus 10 sec­onds. One hour, 32 min­utes and 32 sec­onds later, the al­go­rithm had sifted through 271 pa­tients and their pairs to iden­tify 82 trans­plants, in­clud­ing 17 three-way ex­changes. It’s the high­est num­ber of trans­plants yet to be iden­ti­fied in a run. Ex­cit­ing, said Bur­napp, and proof that ef­forts to de­velop the scheme are work­ing.

“To me it’s re­ally heart-lift­ing, be­cause th­ese are pa­tients who would never see a trans­plant. It just means ev­ery­thing, re­ally.”

Since the liv­ing kid­ney scheme started in 2007, about 2,000 pa­tients have reg­is­tered on it, and more than 900 peo­ple have ben­e­fited from a trans­plant – in­clud­ing 19 chil­dren, the youngest aged three.

As well as meet­ing a chain who have had surgery, I want to speak to a pair who are cur­rently go­ing through the process. I meet Richard and Mau­reen Ven­tre at the Royal Liver­pool hos­pi­tal with their donor co­or­di­na­tor, Ann Strong, 12 days be­fore Mau­reen is due to give a kid­ney that will mean Richard gets a much­needed trans­plant. The re­tired man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of a fam­ily con­struc­tion busi­ness, he was di­ag­nosed with a col­lapsed kid­ney in 2016. It was a shock: un­like a lot of kid­ney dis­ease, his prob­lems came on quickly. “It’s like you’ve got a nice lively bat­tery in you and all of a sud­den it’s just gone,” he says.

He and Mau­reen met in the heat­wave of 1976, work­ing a sum­mer sea­son in a grand Geor­gian ho­tel in Torquay. He was a 23-year-old stu­dent from Liver­pool and she, aged 17, had come all the way from Glas­gow. The scousers, geordies and Glaswe­gians al­ways seemed to grav­i­tate to­wards each other, they re­mem­ber, and one night they found them­selves out on a dou­ble date. To­day, they have the calm, quiet close­ness of a cou­ple who have been mar­ried for al­most four decades.

Six years ago the Ven­tres lost the el­dest of their four chil­dren, Tim; he drowned in a pool in El Sal­vador at the age of 30. He was a trav­eller, Richard ex­plains, and they would love to fol­low in his foot­steps; south-east Asia, maybe, off the beaten track. They aren't sure that will be pos­si­ble now, but they keep it in mind.

Mau­reen, who worked un­til re­cently in ad­mis­sions at a lo­cal col­lege, is twinkly-eyed and chatty, but when I ask about her de­ci­sion to do­nate, her face crum­ples up with tears and no words come out. “It’s just ob­vi­ous,” she even­tu­ally mut­ters. “No, it wasn’t hard.”

In fact, she and Richard, 59 and 65 re­spec­tively, are com­pat­i­ble, so her kid­ney could have gone straight to him; but they de­cided to use the shar­ing scheme in the hope of get­ting him an even bet­ter match. This is en­cour­aged: the more pairs in the pool, the more trans­plants are likely. They are now in a long al­tru­is­tic (and anony­mous) donor chain: Richard’s new kid­ney will come from the al­tru­is­tic donor and Mau­reen’s will go to a pa­tient in an­other pair, whose donor’s kid­ney will then go to some­one on the wait­ing list.

At 8am on the dot on the morn­ing of their surgery, Strong gets a call on →

David is thrilled his kid­ney came from a fel­low Chelsea fan. He and Martha want to take Steve and Ben to a match

her mo­bile from the hos­pi­tal Richard’s kid­ney is com­ing from; ev­ery­thing looks OK there. She checks in with the cen­tre that will re­ceive Mau­reen’s kid­ney; it’s also good to go.

I join her in the­atre later. The kid­ney must be cut and cau­terised away from the yel­lowy fat that sur­rounds it un­til only the vein, ar­ter­ies and ureter are hold­ing it in place; the per­sis­tent snip­ping of the cut­ting tool rings out in the cool hush of the room. The keyhole surgery is done via three 1cm in­ci­sions, the sur­geon, Ajay Sharma, wield­ing the in­stru­ments while the reg­is­trar holds the cam­era (the kid­ney will come out of a larger cut, around 7cm long). They stand al­most shoul­der to shoul­der, never tak­ing their eyes off the large screen above them, the pink of the tan­gle of kid­ney and fat it shows re­flected in their glasses.

Dan Ridg­way, the sec­ond sur­geon, watches from the side­lines. “Th­ese are the ones that keep me awake at night be­cause, essen­tially, you’re a healthy per­son hav­ing an op­er­a­tion you don’t need,” he says. “I don’t even call them pa­tients. They’re VIPs.” In the af­ter­noon, he’ll be the one fix­ing Richard Ven­tre’s new kid­ney into place.

Once the ar­ter­ies are clamped and cut, it’s cru­cial for the health of the kid­ney that it’s re­moved as soon as pos­si­ble. The time each is done is recorded on a white­board. “Time on the board, artery one,” Ridg­way says. “12.06,” comes the in­struc­tion from Strong to a nurse. At 12.09, they re­peat the process for the sec­ond artery. The vein is cut last, and sud­denly, at 12.10, a bowl con­tain­ing the kid­ney is thrust to­wards Ridg­way. His task now is to swiftly cool it and flush out the blood. A tall man, he sits hunched over a trol­ley at the foot of the op­er­at­ing ta­ble, sets the kid­ney in a bed of ster­ile ice and uses tweez­ers to lo­cate an artery. Hang­ing be­side him is a bag of per­fus­ing fluid – the liq­uid used to wash out the kid­ney – and once he has the artery be­tween his thumb and fore­fin­ger, the reg­is­trar in­serts a tube. The fluid rushes in and the wa­ter in the bowl grad­u­ally turns red as the blood flows out. The kid­ney gets paler. “It’s lovely to see it come to life when they trans­plant it,” Strong says, “be­cause it goes in that colour and then pinks up.”

Ridg­way skil­fully peels away the re­main­ing fat and clips it off with long, curved scis­sors. “A good-sized kid­ney,” he says, giv­ing it a lit­tle squeeze.

The or­gan is triple-bagged, float­ing in per­fus­ing fluid, and Strong buries it in an ice­box. Ridg­way gets a text from the sur­geon who has re­moved the kid­ney that is go­ing to Richard Ven­tre. “Ev­ery­thing fine,” it says. “Good luck.”

Down the neon-lit cor­ri­dor, the courier is al­ready wait­ing for us and, as soon as the pa­per­work is filled in, she’s off, back down in the lifts and to­wards the hos­pi­tal where the next pa­tient in the chain is wait­ing. It’s 12.31pm. You can get a kid­ney pretty much any­where in the UK in four hours, Strong says. Couri­ers will of­ten use blue lights, and the or­gans are flown be­tween cities for longer jour­neys. “Ev­ery hour counts,” she says. “The longer it’s out of the body, the slower it might be to work.”

Just af­ter 4.30pm, Ridg­way – who’s been to An­field to buy a Liver­pool away kit for his son dur­ing the sur­gi­cal break – pops his head into Strong’s of­fice: the do­nated kid­ney has ar­rived. We fetch it from the ward and Strong hands him the box with a cheery, “It’s all yours.” He lopes into the lift, head­ing straight up to the­atre. In the of­fice, Strong re­clines in her chair and beams. “There you go,” she says. “It’s great, isn’t it?”

When we meet, David tells me he hadn’t wanted his wife to do­nate a kid­ney. “I just didn’t want her to go through it,” he says. “But she made me re­alise I had to do it – not just for my­self, but for her.” They got to­gether six months af­ter Martha ar­rived in Eng­land from the Colom­bian city of Bu­cara­manga to study busi­ness in 1985, and mar­ried five years later. “Three months down the line, he got ill and the best years of our lives for hav­ing a fam­ily were gone,” she says. By his last year on dial­y­sis, David was so weak that he was forced to close his suc­cess­ful de­sign and art­work con­sul­tancy, aged just 49. “What kind of life is that for the two of us?” Martha had asked of the prospect of her hus­band go­ing back on dial­y­sis. “I didn’t think that I could cope with more,” she says.

When he woke up from surgery last year, David couldn’t be­lieve how well he felt. “I was send­ing texts, emails,” he says. “I felt great.” He lis­tened to mu­sic on the ra­dio a lot in →

Richard’s prob­lems came on quickly. ‘It's like you’ve got a nice lively bat­tery in you and sud­denly it’s just gone’

the days that fol­lowed and fre­quently found him­self in tears, over­whelmed by the re­al­i­sa­tion of what Martha, and the kid­ney ex­change scheme, had made pos­si­ble.

“Some peo­ple say, ‘You’re un­lucky be­cause you’ve been ill so long’,” he says. “I’m lucky. I’m lucky that Martha came into my life and I’m very lucky that I’ve got this kid­ney. I’ve got a chance for us to go and en­joy our­selves.”

This was Ben’s sec­ond trans­plant, too; he suf­fered kid­ney fail­ure at the age of 19 and his mother do­nated di­rectly to him three months later. Early in 2016, the re­cruit­ment con­sul­tant was told by his doc­tors at St He­lier hos­pi­tal, in Sur­rey, that that kid­ney might only last an­other six months. He pro­fesses not to have minded the two months he spent on dial­y­sis be­fore his first trans­plant (“I got to watch Come Dine With Me for four hours three times a week and eat re­ally nice sand­wiches”) but this time, with a part­ner, a de­mand­ing job and a foot­ball team full of teenagers to coach, he was des­per­ate to avoid it.

“When we’re to­gether, we’re like two peas in a pod,” Ben says of his fa­ther. The night be­fore surgery they went to the pub to watch their beloved Chelsea foot­ball club beat Azer­bai­jan’s Qarabağ FK 6-0 (“He had a pint, I didn’t”). Sev­eral months ear­lier, they were due to be part of an­other chain, but the op­er­a­tions were can­celled the day be­fore be­cause one of the re­cip­i­ents was un­well. (For the run I looked at with Bur­napp, 57 of the 82 trans­plants that the al­go­rithm came up with – 70% – ended up hap­pen­ing; the fig­ure is in­creas­ing and the com­ple­tion tar­get is 75% by 2020.)

The de­lay was dif­fi­cult, but Ben was told that Ryan’s kid­ney – “a big juicy one” – was, in fact, a bet­ter match for him. “It’s work­ing won­der­fully,” he says. Of ev­ery­one in the chain, he’s the least given to dwelling on the emo­tional side of what he’s been through, though he does re­mem­ber cry­ing at his first dial­y­sis ses­sion, struck by the re­al­ity of how ill he was.

I spoke to Ben’s dad, Steve, on the phone. Although he lived over­seas and ended up trav­el­ling back and forth to the UK seven times in a year as a re­sult, he was de­ter­mined to do­nate. “He’s my son,” the 55-year-old builder said. “Sim­ple as that. You don’t like to see your kids suf­fer­ing.”

Steve hoped his kid­ney would give some­one a good life but had never re­ally thought about who might end up with it. “As long as Ben got his kid­ney and he was fine, you could have put it in a pie and cooked it, for all I cared,” he said. But when Ben gets hold of him on a video call at the pho­to­shoot and David tells him how grate­ful he is, some­thing shifts. “When I started speak­ing to David it sort of sunk in a bit,” he tells me later. “It was done for Ben, but I have helped some­one else have a nor­mal-ish life.”

David, mean­while, is thrilled to dis­cover that his kid­ney came from a fel­low Chelsea fan. He emails Steve that evening, and later shares the mes­sage with me: “It is an in­cred­i­ble feel­ing to think that some­one like you has made this in­cred­i­ble gift for a loved one and you have ended up help­ing not one but two peo­ple,” it says. “A mil­lion thanks to you.”

A few months af­ter their surgery, I catch up with the Ven­tres. Richard’s kid­ney is work­ing well and he’s started play­ing a bit of golf again. Mau­reen still feels lethar­gic at times, but she’s en­joy­ing walk­ing and swim­ming, and hopes to re­turn to yoga soon. They are due to spend their 39th wed­ding an­niver­sary at the ho­tel in Torquay where they met, their first trip back since the 70s. And they still hope to travel to some far-flung des­ti­na­tions one day, if the doc­tors ap­prove.

Mean­while, the mem­bers of our six-strong chain plan to keep in touch. Ryan and Ben have been chat­ting on­line about their re­cruit­ment work; David and Martha want to take Ben and his dad to a Chelsea match next time Steve is in the UK, maybe even get a box. Martha and Lee are meet­ing for a drink when he’s next in Lon­don, and she hopes to ar­range a re­union for ev­ery­one a year from now.

When they met, Lee told the group he’d thought he’d only be in­ter­ested in meet­ing Martha, his donor. “But hav­ing met every­body it’s strange how it all feels in­ter­linked,” he said. “None of it would have hap­pened if it hadn’t been for ev­ery­one.”

For more in­for­ma­tion, go to or­gan­do­na­tion.nhs.uk/about­do­na­tion/liv­ing-do­na­tion. Hear Rachel Wil­liams talk about the story be­hind this ar­ti­cle on the new Guardian pod­cast, To­day in Fo­cus, later this month, at the­guardian.com.

‘The big thing for me was his eyes. Be­fore the op­er­a­tion, they were dark and sunken. Af­ter, it was like a dif­fer­ent guy’

Ryan (left) do­nated a kid­ney to Ben Ben's dad Steve (left) do­nated a kid­ney to David David's wife Martha do­nated a kid­ney to Lee, who is best friends with Ryan (far left)

Steve Ab­bott (far left) with son Ben; David and Martha My­ers (be­low)

Mau­reen and Richard Ven­tre. ‘I don’t call them pa­tients, they’re VIPs,’ says one of the sur­geons who re­moved her kid­ney

‘I feel twen­tysome­thing again’: Lee Ben­nett (on left) with best friend Ryan Mace

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