NHS worker saves colleague's life by donating kidney

Report by Granada Reports Journalist Rachel Townsend.

An NHS surgeon has had his own life saved after a colleague donated her kidney.

Trauma surgeon Andrew Sloane suffered total kidney failiure in October 2018.

Shortly after he was put on the waiting list for an organ donation.

He said: "I was really struggling. I had be able to continue working, but that was really taking all of my effort and energy.

"At home I was absolutely shattered. I Didn't feel great. I was constantly fatigued and worn out."

By March 2020 he was on dialysis and waiting for a deceased donor which wasn't likely to happen.

His colleague Rebecca then stepped in and donated her kidney to him. They are both back at work and have fully recovered.

Session Utilisation Coordinator Rebecca Brazendale said when everybody was unable to do it for different reasons she stepped in:

Now his hospital in Preston has created a challenge to encourage people to speak to their loved ones about organ donation.

Staff at the Royal Preston Hospital have created the 'Race for Recipients' challenge in support of the 'Leave Them Certain' campaign.

The campaign encourages people to speak to their loved ones about organ donation. Specifically, their decision as to whether they would like to be a donor.

The 'Race for Recipients' challenge involves walking, running or cycling 7000 miles over the course of organ donation week - one mile for every single person currently on the UK transplant list.

The hospital wants people in the North-West and across England to share their miles with people and highlight the importance of leaving loved ones certain about decisions relating to donation:

Critical Care consultant for Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Dr Catherine Roberts said: “We want to give many of those people a transplant as possible and sadly some do die before they get there.

"We want to give out as many transplants as possible and we can't do that without organ donors.

"Organ donations won't occur without families consenting for loved ones to donate their organs."

Here's how you can get involved:

'The Leave Them Certain' campaign was created a change in the Law surrounding organ donation.

The change came after it was discovered there was a shortage of donors in the UK.

Organ donation laws in England and crown dependencies (.i.e. the Isle of Man)

From 20 May 2020, in England, you will automatically be an organ donor when you die if you are over the age of 18, have not chosen to opt out or you are not in an excluded group.

Excluded groups are:

  • People under 18-years-old

  • Those who are mentally incapable of understanding the new law and making a decision

  • People visiting England and those who aren’t living here voluntarily

  • People who lived in England less than 12 months prior to their death

Isle of Man residents, on the other hand, have to opt-in to become an organ donor.

It is hoped that the change in the system in England will lead to more people agreeing to support organ donation and will help cut transplant waiting times, saving more lives.

Even though there is an opt-out system, people do not realise that families will still be contacted before any donation goes ahead so it's important to actually have the conversation.

Lancashire Teaching Hospital Consultant in Critical Care Dr Catherine Roberts said: "If someone has expressed their wishes before hand, either by a conversation or signing up to the organ donation register, families are 90% likely to go along with that decision.

"If someone is certain about what their loved ones wishes would be, our rate of consent for organ donation is much higher."

Keith Astbury donated his daughter Pippa's organs in 2018 after she died of a spontaneous catastrophic brain haemorrhage.

The family learned Pippa wanted to be an organ and tissue donor after she passed.

"When we were asked whether we consent to this, we were surprised because we didn't know anything about that. We hadn't had the conversation with Pippa."

They discussed her decision and after an hour the family decided to honour her wishes.

Click here to register your decision about Organ donation.

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