For Nadka Vlahov and her brother Biser, Living Kidney Donation Awareness Week is not just a campaign to raise awareness, it’s personal.
Nadka used to be one of the over 400 people in Scotland waiting for a kidney transplant. She had dialysis in Tayside for six years before Biser made the decision that changed their lives forever.
Biser said, “When we were been told that I was the best possible donor for my sister, actually one in a million, I became even more determined to help her.
“We had meetings with NHS Tayside’s transplant co-ordinator Irene Russell who was very helpful and a very positive person. At every meeting, I was told what tests needed to be done and the details about them, which was very reassuring because when you are aware of what is coming next you can mentally prepare for it.
“The date for the transplantation was set for 20 December 2018. When we arrived at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, we met an excellent team of specialists, doctors and other health specialist staff. It was obvious to me that every single one of them loved their job and this made me feel very safe and comfortable.”
Biser made a directed donation, which is when people who are close to the person in need of a kidney, such a family member, partner or good friend decides to donate to help their loved one.
For those patients who do not have anyone who can make a directed donation, they can receive a kidney through a non-directed altruistic donation, when a person donates one of their kidneys anonymously to someone on the NHS Blood and Transplant national register in order to help improve their life.
Patients who receive a living donor transplant tend to live longer and feel better than patients who have other forms of kidney treatments such as dialysis.
Nadka said, “Six years is a long time on dialysis and it was a very hard time for me and my family. I was very pleased when my brother wanted to help, but at the same time I was worried. It was going to be major surgery and he had always been healthy and had never stayed in a hospital.
“I still remember the phone call from Irene who informed us that it was a perfect match. I needed a miracle and there it was. For everyone who is on the waiting list and waiting for a donor, never lose hope. My story got a happy ending and yours can too.
“After the transplantation I am pain free and I have so much more energy than before. I am walking a lot every day now and doing my daily routines with not much effort which is great. Simply, I got a second chance at life.”
Chair of the Tayside Donation Committee Dr Stephen Cole said, “NHS Tayside is supporting National Living Kidney Awareness Week and we hope that there will be more success stories like this in the future.
“Dialysis is extremely life-limiting and most patients have to come to hospital three times a week for treatment, which has a significant impact on their quality of life. The ultimate treatment for these patients will be an organ transplant, which will allow them to return to a more normal way of life and have a positive effect on their life expectancy.
“Lots of people think they would be unsuitable to donate organs and tissues because of medical history or lifestyle choices, but each potential donor is individually assessed and we need people from all ethnicities and backgrounds to register.
“Joining the organ donor register takes about two minutes but those two minutes could quite literally save a life.”
You can register to be a donor at www.weneedeverybody.org
For more information on Living Kidney Organ Donation, please visit www.livingdonationscotland.org