Gift of life: 'The decision someone took to carry a donor card means my daughter has got her old Dad back'

It was exactly a year ago.

I had just been on ITV News at Ten, talking to the Lord of the Rings film director, Peter Jackson, about footage he had restored of soldiers in World War One trenches.

My husband is from New Zealand I told him, and then ensued a long Kiwi related chat, which also took in the kidney transplant my husband Steve had had in Auckland three decades ago.

It was just one of those chats I have with most Kiwis I meet.

Steve had been born with a reflux problem, basically when the flow of urine in the body goes the wrong way.

It's relatively easy to detect and treat in children these days. But with Steve, back then, it was undetected.

Anyway "too much information" I had joked with the charming and gracious Mr Jackson.

Nina and her family moved to Norwich to try to de-stress.

It proved to be something of a prescient conversation.

In the early hours of the next day as I slept in London and my family in Norfolk (better for his health we had surmised before we made the move to the East coast seven years ago), my phone went.

Generally not good news when that happens at 2am.

Except on this occasion. It was my bleary eyed, confused husband, telling me "errr Addenbrokes have been on the line. they think they've got me a kidney".

The kidney that had been gifted to my husband as a teenager in New Zealand - he was gravely ill before he got it - had started dying several years ago.

We had tried to do what we could to de-stress life. I work in a high pressured stressful newsroom, so it was going to be hugely challenging for me.

But for him and our daughter, we could and would try something different. Norwich became our home.

And that dying kidney seemed to stagger on, until three years ago, when Steve was informed that dialysis would be necessary.

He wept - he rarely does - remembering the three years he had spent in New Zealand, hooked up to a machine at home four days a week.

His beloved surfing was on hold and he was reliant on his parents to help him. Not the teenage life he had envisaged.

But it is what it is - his favourite saying.

Nina's husband Steve has had two kidney transplants.

So for two years we'd get regular deliveries of the solution he had to drain into his body, at four hourly intervals.

Home life was built around this regime. TV programmes halted when it was time for him to have his dialysis treatment.

Car journeys punctuated with a clean place for him to hook himself up.

Nights out carved into three-and-a-half hour intervals.

Weekends necessitating a roof box to carry all the medical equipment he'd need. And tons of tablets, medicine boxes everywhere.

Our diets changed, a list of what he shouldn't eat becoming part of the family's whole regime too.

Days when he was sick - and there were a few, dialysis is extraordinary but it is a slog - when he had to run from the dining table to the bathroom to vomit.

This was our normal life as I commuted back and forth between Norwich where I had to learn nursing skills and medical know how, and London when I might be sitting down with Meryl Streep, or heading out to LA for the Oscars.

A life of contrasts.

Until that phone call.

I hurried home, and even as I sat on the first train back to Norwich at 6, the consultant at Addenbrokes was on the line from beside my husbands hospital bed.

Having waited this long for a kidney, two suitable organs had become available.

Steve's celebration party held earlier this week.

It was down to Steve and I to decide which to go for.

I remember sobbing into the phone "but I don't know anything about kidneys", much to the bemusement of my fellow train passengers.

We had to make a quick decision, whichever you chose will be the right one for you the kindly consultant told us.

In the end, Steve had his transplant. We only knew the donor who had liver problems, had died a short time before.

The protection offered to the donor's family is incredibly impressive, no names are exchanged, if you wish to contact them it is strictly and sensitively controlled.

We were all too aware that only through the death of someone, had my husband, in his 50s, been gifted another kidney.

This stays with us every day.

Nothing is taken for granted.

Nina says that each day in her family is a gift and the little things that mean so much.

When he was out of hospital and feeling stronger, we attempted something that had been too bothersome and complicated before then.

We went our for dinner and then straight out to the cinema and we didn't go home in between to dialyse.

It could have been the worst film ever made, it wouldn't have mattered. We couldn't stop smiling.

We got on a plane to go on holiday. A short trip. Even the drab food on board tasted so good!

We spent summer days up on the Norfolk coast with friends in a caravan! No need to panic about finding sterile areas.

It's the little things that mean so much. That remind us that the mundane is special. That each day in our family is a gift.

That someone opted to carry a donor card, a decision that means my daughter has got her old Dad back.

And I have got another great story to share with Peter Jackson when I next see him!

How can I become an organ donor?