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'Transplant made me feel like I had been reborn'
LIKE being reborn - that is how one man who lived with kidney failure described his transplant as he supports a Worcester mum's attempts to find a live donor.
Ken Davies, from London Road, Worcester, hopes to help cystic fibrosis sufferer Sally-Anne Grainger find a donor by talking about his experience of receiving an organ.
The 37-year-old said the decision to donate should not be taken lightly but it would make a profound difference to Sally-Anne's quality of life.
Miss Grainger, from Swallowfields, Warndon Villages, appealed for live donors through the paper after strong medication she took for a double lung transplant left her with renal failure.
She said she felt like she was "just existing" and had run out of all other options.
Mr Davies spent over two and a half years on the transplant waiting list after noticing that he had a lot of water retention in both legs in 2003.
A biopsy revealed he had chronic kidney failure with the organs only functioning about 60 per cent and would eventually fail.
Doctors did not know why his kidneys had failed but in October 2010, when the kidney function reached 15 per cent, he began peritoneal dialysis which he could do himself at home for six to eight hours every night.
In January 2011, doctors discovered Mr Davies' kidney function had dropped to just two per cent and he was immediately referred to Queen Elizabeth (QE) in Birmingham where he spent five weeks in hospital.
He was also placed on the transplant list.
"I felt sorry for myself for the first week but had to get myself sorted as the world had not stopped.
"I thought to myself there is always someone worse off and I also needed to help myself in order to get better and at least live my life to the best I could.
"At the end of the day, I only have one life and I was not going to spend it in bed."
Returning to work and trying to live as normally as possible, he continued to use his dialysis machine at home, taking it abroad when he visited his family back in Malta, until an infection in the catheter tube forced him to attend Kidderminster Hospital for dialysis.
But on August 13, 2013, he received an early morning hone call from his transplant co-ordinator to say they had a kidney from a deceased donor.
"I was expecting a call to go back in to have a new catheter tube put in but they told me I was a back up for kidney transplant and to wait for their call later.
"I really could not explain my emotions. I was happy, excited, nervous, scared and shaking all at once.
"It's one thing being prepared knowing one day that call might happen but, when it actually happens, it is a complete different set of emotions."
It was not until 10.30pm he got the call to go to Birmingham for tests but at 9.30am the following day he was put under anaesthetic.
"Next thing I can remember was waking up about 7pm. I was in hospital for six days before I got sent home and luckily for me the new kidney took straight away."
Though there is no guarantee the kidney will take or how long it will last for, Mr Davies immediately began to experience the benefits.
"The whites of my eyes were yellow but immediately went back to white, I had more energy, more motivation in doing things, sleeping a lot better and also eating and drinking whatever I liked.
"The best thing though was no more dialysis.
"I can only say that the transplant has changed my life completely, like I was reborn.
"Whatever time frame I get with this kidney, I will be grateful I had a chance to live a normal life again."
Recipients of organs from a deceased person are told very little about the donor but Mr Davies remains forever grateful to the man's family as well as the QE, his employer VolkerLaser and friends and family for their support.
"There is always a need for people to become donors by either having a donor card or actually being a living donor.
"Becoming a live donor is a huge, unselfish sacrifice - you are giving a part of you to help or save another human being.
"I was and still am a donor card holder myself so when I pass away they can have anything to help others apart from the kidneys.
Hopefully this may influence others to do the same."
To sign up for a donor card log on to .organdonation.nhs.uk.
Anyone considering becoming a live donor for Sally-Anne should have the same blood type, O positive, and can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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