'The colour in his face looked different' - Bristol man’s life saved by partner’s kidney

A man from Bristol has told those on the kidney transplant waitlist to ‘hold on’ after his life was changed by his partner's kidney donation.

Neil Woolley was diagnosed with kidney disease 20 years ago. He was 17 when he was told that he’d need a transplant to save his life one day.

Unsure what caused his kidneys to fail, he told ITV News West Country: “Like lots of 17-year-olds I went out with my friends, I drank too much and I ate too much and I probably danced too much and the next day I woke up with deep vein thrombosis in my left leg.

“We got straight to the hospital and it was the result of kidney failure.”

Just five weeks ago, Neil’s partner Kate saved his life by donating her kidney to him, which came as Neil’s health was rapidly deteriorating.

He said: “You feel like you’re twice your own age, headaches, a bit of nausea, loss of appetite, it can be tough some days.

“You have good days and bad days but most of the time you feel fairly rotten.”

Neil had been able to manage the condition until the past 18 months when he was added to the transplant waiting list. By chance, his partner Kate was a donor match.

Speaking after the transplant, she said: “It was always at the back of my mind to donate but it was only in the past two or three years that I started going through the paperwork.

“I didn’t expect us to be a match or anything, but it turned out we were, and I could go ahead.

“It was amazing to see Neil after the procedure. He was up and about and the colour in his face looked different already.

“He managed to come and visit without warning me in advance, it was a very nice surprise.”

Neil’s procedure at Southmead Hospital was the 100th adult kidney transplant for the team since April last year.

Almost a third of those came from living donors and doctors say relatives and loved ones often offer the best chance of successful donations, despite not appearing to be the perfect match.

Consultant at Southmead Hospital, Dr Jack Galliford said: “Lots of people don’t understand that organs can be donated between sexes, between ethnic groups and actually the boundaries for organ donation and receipt and successful transplantation are far fewer than you might imagine.”

Speaking to others waiting for transplantation, Neil said: “Have patience, when you're on the transplant list it feels like it might never end.

“It could be tomorrow, it could be four years from now, but know that there is almost certainly an endpoint and that you will feel better for it, you might just have to hold on just that little bit longer.”

Details of organ donation can be found on the NHS blood and transplant website.