For three years Rosie Morgan watched her best friend Zoe Richards deteriorate in front of her eyes from kidney disease.
With time running out, and no signs of a possible match, the 26-year-old decided to donate her own kidney in a bid to save her friend's life.
''Zoe and I met in 2018 and we've been inseparable ever since. Over the years we've enjoyed nights, long walks, and trips abroad together,'' said student Rosie, from Bridgend.
''We've helped each other through some really challenging times over the years and so when Zo told me that she was suffering with kidney failure I knew I wanted to do everything I could to support her.''
Zoe, 40, is among the 20,000 people in Wales who suffer with kidney disease.
''I can remember the day she told me - she was so upset. After the initial diagnosis her health kept deteriorating and it started to affect her day-to day life,'' Rosie said.
"Zoe had always been relatively healthy but she felt constantly tired and run down and it got to the point where she had to quit her job because she was too ill to work the long hours. She felt so low."
In March 2020, Zoe's kidneys had completely scarred and she was told that she needed a transplant immediately.
Rosie said: ''I felt helpless. Nothing prepares you for seeing your friend like that but I knew I had to stay strong and be there for her.''
In the months following Zoe's discovery Rosie researched in the possibility of a living donation and got herself tested.
She said: "In July 2020 I started to research living donation and in November I got tested to see if I was a blood match. I hadn't told anyone about this, not even Zoe, because I wanted to be sure I fully understood what I was doing before going through with it."While getting tested I was told how rare it would be for us because we are from different backgrounds; Zoe is mixed race, so I prepared myself for the worst news."Shortly after Rosie received the news she'd been hoping for – she was a match.She added: "It was a miracle. Everything happens for a reason and this was obviously meant to be. From that point I knew I'd made the right decision."I called Zoe and it was the most emotional phone call we've ever made. She's a very kind person and at first she didn't want me to risk my health and go through with it."But I didn't want to do this for her – I wanted to do it for the both of us. We've been through everything together. I wasn't going to let her go through it alone."
The live transplant went ahead successfully at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, on March 17, 2021, during the coronavirus pandemic. The pair are doing well and are now in recovery.Rosie said: "I was naturally anxious about the transplant beforehand, especially as we were in the height of the pandemic, but the process before and during was incredible and the staff at the University Hospital of Wales made us both feel safe throughout."We were able to see each other 12 hours after the transplant. We were both so emotional, I can't describe the feeling – it was phenomenal. She immediately looked healthier. I had the old Zoe back again."Donating a kidney to my best friend is an incredible feeling. I can't put it into words."Zoe, who is now on the road to recovery, said: "Since the transplant it's incredible how my health has instantly changed. I'm no longer tired, my headaches have gone, and I finally have energy. My kidney is doing well and functioning at around 80%."I can't put into words how grateful I am to Rosie. Without her donation I could have faced dialysis and a restricted future. I'm truly indebted to her for giving me the gift of life."Having a life-changing transplant during a period of such despair is special. I can now look forward to being able to enjoy the small things again: watching my son grow up, going on trips away with Rosie, and living my life to the fullest."People may be more hesitant than ever to go through with live donation at the moment but I hope our experience encourages more people to consider it and to speak about organ donation so more lives can be saved."Later this year Rosie is hoping to run the Race to the Stones ultra-marathon and the London Marathon in aid of Kidney Wales.