David Bruce: Transplants Stories

• On 1 September 2010, Graham Denison donated a kidney to his daughter, Kaye Noone, a 28-year-old schoolteacher in Teesside, England. At age 13, Kaye was diagnosed with polycystic kidney syndrome. For 15 years, she often suffered infections and required repeated trips to hospitals, and eventually she needed dialysis and then a transplant. Kaye said about her father, “After the operation, he was telling people, ‘I’ve given my daughter life twice. Once when she was born and then again two days ago.’ I think it’s absolutely amazing. He’s an amazing dad anyway. There’s an extra bond now. I feel closer to him. I’m really grateful and he knows — I’ve said ‘thank you’ a lot! I ask him how he is all the time and he’s really well.” The transplant frees her from the three hours of dialysis that she needed daily. Kaye said, “I’m young, had just got married, and am quite career orientated, so I was worried three hours a day on dialysis would affect my lifestyle. I wasn’t worried about having a transplant because I always saw it as the solution and dialysis as a temporary measure. Because I’d been in hospital quite a lot, I was reassuring dad. But when I asked him if he was nervous, he said he wasn’t. He’s the kind of guy who just gets on with things.” Her father, Graham, a computer engineer, said that he had “only done what any parent would do.” He said that he is proud of Kaye, who graduated from a university despite being forced to take time off due to her bad health. He called her his “little hero.” Graham said, “The fact it is your child overrules any risks or nerves that you might have. I couldn’t have not done it. I don’t feel particularly brave. You just feel you’ve done your duty. You’ve done what any parent would do.” He supports organ donation: “I think it’s a shame wasting organs when someone dies.” Kaye said, “I know how lucky I was to have someone who was able to give me a kidney as 90% of organs needed are kidneys, according to UK Kidney Research. If more people were on the register, we would be able to keep more people alive for longer.”

• In 2002, Rebecca Hancock, age three, saved the lives of her twin baby brothers. Alex and Jake, nine months old, had a rare genetic disease that was harming their immune system. Without a bone marrow transplant, they would be dead by age one. Their parents, Emma and Tim, of Maidstone, Kent, England, were not good matches, but sister Rebecca was a perfect match. Emma, age 23, said, “I cried when it dawned on me that Rebecca was the one who would probably save their lives. We didn’t think she would want to have the operation. I asked her, saying, ‘You know that little bit of blood the doctors took from you? It is going to make Alex and Jake better. Would you like to give some more blood so that you can make them better?’ She just looked at me and simply said, ‘Yeah, okay.’ It was if she was saying, ‘No problem — piece of cake.’ We were totally overjoyed. They told us that most adults are laid up for a week after giving their bone marrow. But Rebecca was up next day, running up and down the corridors. It was fantastic to see.” What about the twins? Emma said, “They are doing really well. They will have to go to hospital regularly until they are 18 and they are on five drugs a day as they cope with the new marrow, but it seems to have been successful already.” Emma added, “We are so proud of Rebecca. She is being spoiled rotten at the moment because she really is our little heroine.”

• In September 2001, Ben Ferguson, age four, became Scotland’s first patient to receive a grandparent-donated kidney. Ben had suffered from kidney problems (renal failure) all his life; he even had to have one kidney removed and had been going through dialysis. In 2000, doctors at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children at Yorkhill in Glasgow decided that he needed a kidney transplant. His parents, Angela and Sam, from Old Kilpatrick, Dunbartonshire, were unsuitable donors. Fortunately, one of his grandfathers, 54-year-old Joe Boyd, was a perfect match. Mr. Boyd, a construction site manager in excellent health, said, “It was fantastic being able to give this gift to my grandson, and I am delighted the operation has gone so well. The best part is being able to see the difference it has made to little Ben, and hopefully he will now lead a full and active life free from health worries.” Dr. Anna Murphy, a consultant pediatrician at Yorkhill and Ben’s pediatrician since his birth, said, “Everyone is delighted at how well the operation has gone and how well both Ben and Joe are doing. The bond between the two has been very strong ever since Ben was born, and I know Joe is overjoyed that he has been able to give this gift to him. Ben really has beaten all the odds to come this far; he is a very determined little lad and has impressed us all with his courage.”

• In 2009, Drew Swank, a 17-year-old living in Spokane, Washington, was hit by an opposing player in a football game. He was taken to Sacred Heart, where he died. His family donated his organs to seven people, whose lives were saved or whose sight was restored. His mother, Patti, said, “I knew when his accident, when he, he didn’t make it that he would want to do that.” His father, Don, said, “We met Rocky, who received Drew’s lungs, he let us listen to Drew’s, our son’s, lungs with a stethoscope and how wonderful that is.” Patti remembered about Drew, “Out of the blue he asked me, ‘Mom, what do you think about organ donation?’ and I think it had to do with he just got his drivers license and they asked that.” His sister, Tara, said, “Drew is a hero. He’s a hero to everyone in our family.”

• “I had to have a complete liver transplant.” — Shelley Fabares, actress in Coachand The Donna Reed Show.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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