Aunt and nephew share living donation story for world kidney day

Kidney transplant patient Paul Gardiner

An Angus man, who has a future thanks to a kidney transplant from his aunt, is raising awareness of living donation as part of World Kidney Day (12 March).

Paul Gardiner received a life-changing kidney transplant in November after his aunt and godmother, Caroline Bowman, put herself forward as a living donor.

Paul was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease (PKD) as a child, a condition he and his brother Frazer inherited from their father.

In his early thirties tests showed his kidney function was declining. When it reached 20 per cent, Caroline had no hesitation in putting herself forward to be considered as a living donor for her nephew – after her sister Susan, Paul’s mother, did the same thing for Paul’s dad Trevor in 2010.

Caroline said, “I’ve seen at firsthand the difference Trevor’s transplant made and how, by becoming his kidney donor, my sister was able to give him back his health. That’s why, when Paul’s kidneys started to fail badly, I knew it was time to find out if I could be his donor so he could have a life-changing transplant too.

“I just wanted to help make the transplant happen to turn everything around and give him a future.  I’d do it all again in an instant and – knowing how life-changing a transplant can be and what a positive experience it is to become a donor – I’d certainly encourage anyone in a similar situation to find out about living organ donation. Sharing the gift of life could be the most important thing you ever do.”

Over 800 people in Scotland have helped others by donating a kidney in the last decade.  A kidney from a living donor generally offers the best outcomes for patients living with kidney failure who need a transplant.

There are two routes to living kidney donation – directed donation where a friend, relative or partner donates to a loved one, or non-directed altruistic donation which involves a person donating to a stranger.

Paul, who is recovering well and looking ahead to life with his fiancée Rachel, said, “It’s still early days but the transplant has already made a huge difference.  Within a matter of weeks my kidney function had improved dramatically, going up from just 14 per cent to over 50 per cent, and it should carry on getting better.

“That’s really changed everything for me. Before the operation I was completely exhausted the whole time but that feeling of being wiped out has gone now. That will let me become much more active again and be able to do so many things I couldn’t do, from normal everyday activities to sports I had to give up, like skiing.

“Thanks to my aunt, I have a future, can make plans and enjoy life with Rachel and my family.”

To find out more about living donation visit livingdonationscotland.org

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