I tried to donate a kidney to my daughter at almost 70 but wasn’t a match – so gave it to a stranger instead, after a ‘voice’ told me ‘someone needed it’
A father has revealed how he gifted a stranger a kidney for Christmas – after his own daughter’s life was changed by organ donation.
Arfon Jones, from Cardiff, was devastated when his daughter Seren, 19, became seriously unwell and ended up having both kidneys removed.
He was not a match for the teenager, but signed up to be a living donor through the NHS after hearing ‘a voice telling him ‘there is someone else who needs your kidney’.’
And last month, the father was able to do his part by giving someone in need a kidney – and to his understanding, the patient (who is not known to him) is now getting better.
‘I felt that I had given someone a nice Christmas present,’ he told BBC Radio Cymru’s Bwrw Golwg. ‘And it was nice to know that I’m healthy enough to donate a kidney given that I’m almost 70.’
Arfon Jones, from Cardiff, has revealed how he gifted a stranger a kidney for Christmas – after his own daughter’s life was changed by organ donation
He recalled the ‘amazing’ moment in April, when he learned that a suitable organ was available for Seren when she became so ill that both of her kidneys needed removing.
The teenager was on dialysis for 10 hours every night – and said she ‘wouldn’t be alive’ without the donation today.
A grateful Arfon explained that the family’s lives were completely transformed ‘overnight’ when his daughter was able to undergo the procedure.
He told the radio show how he joined the NHS’s living donor list when they were waiting to hear about a match for Seren – and when a donor was found, he was asked if he’d like to be taken off of it.
The teenager (pictured with her father) was on dialysis for 10 hours every night – and said she ‘wouldn’t be alive’ without the donation today
Arfon said he had a ‘very strange experience’, hearing a voice which told him someone else could need a kidney.
He said: ‘It was as if I heard a voice telling me ‘there is someone else who needs your kidney’ and I just felt that I had to stay on the list.’
The pull was enough to convince him to stay on, and months later, he has been able to potentially change someone’s life.
According to the NHS site, more than 1,000 people across the UK annually donate a kidney or part of their liver while they are still alive to a relative, friend or someone they do not know.
It also says that roughly a third of all UK kidney transplants come from living donors.
A grateful Arfon explained that the family’s lives were completely transformed ‘overnight’ when his daughter was able to undergo the procedure
The legal age for organ donation is 18 years old (16 in Scotland), but there is no upper age limit for being a living kidney donor.
However, the NHS warns that, as we get older, ‘wear and tear’ is more likely so some potential volunteers may require more tests to ensure the procedure would be safe for everyone involved.
There are some instances in which donating a kidney may pose a higher risk – such as people with high blood pressure, those at risk of diabetes, obesity or a history with certain types of cancer – but everyone is looked at individually.
It comes as British doctors are pioneering a ground-breaking treatment that uses patients’ own blood to reduce the risk of organ transplants failing.
The cutting-edge technique results in transplant failure rates being slashed, and also reduces the number of anti-rejection drugs patients need to stop the immune system destroying the new organ. Taken daily, these medicines significantly increase the risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
But the new treatment, reported in September as being offered to kidney transplant patients at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, could potentially safeguard donor organs with a much lower dose of the toxic pills – or even none at all.
Some 3,000 people a year in the UK undergo a lifesaving kidney transplant and then need powerful immune-system dampening tablets for the rest of their lives.
The downside is a three-fold increase in the risk of some cancers – such as lymphoma, which affects the lymph glands – as well as increased risk of heart disease. In some cases, the drugs even end up damaging the very organ they are supposed to be protecting.
The new approach instead harnesses the power of the immune system itself.
WHAT IS INVOLVED IN A KIDNEY TRANSPLANT?
The kidneys have several important functions in the body including filtering waste out of the bloodstream and eliminating excess water or toxins in the urine.
People need a kidney transplant if they have severe kidney disease or if the organ is failing.
To determine if someone is a match to donate a kidney, they have to have matching blood types with the receiver.
If this isn’t possible, doctors can lower the antibody levels in both people to see if the organ can still be a match.
Tissue typing tests (HLA) are taken to also determine if the body will reject or accept the intended donor organ.
Parents and siblings are 50 per cent likely to match with someone who needs a donation.
The numbers drop for people outside of the family.
But the most common way that people receive a kidney donation is from someone who has died.
And many people struggle to find a match that is suitable for them.
People can spend years on the transplant list and on dialysis while waiting for a donor match.
Like most surgical procedures, a kidney transplant can cause short-term risks such as blood clots and infection.
Long-term risks can be weight gain, high blood pressure and an increased risk of cancer.