Organ donation: & # 39; Why I gave my kidney to a stranger & # 39;

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Bev Bradbury JonesImage copyright
Bev Bradbury Jones

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Bev Bradbury Jones became an altruistic kidney donor in April

How far would you go to help a stranger?

Bev Bradbury Jones has gone further than most by donating a kidney to someone she has never met.

The number of altruistic kidney donations in the UK has fallen in recent years. Last year, 66 people gave a kidney to a stranger, compared to 110 in 2014, according to NHS Blood and Transplant.

The majority of donations are made by people who know each other or who are linked via a national exchange program.

About 5,000 people are currently waiting for a kidney transplant in the UK and last year about 250 people died before a kidney could be found.

& # 39; I thought why not? & # 39;

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Bev Bradbury Jones

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Bev only knows that the person who received her kidney was very ill

Bev, 48, from Cwmbran, became an altruistic kidney donor in April

"I signed up last year as a bone marrow donor and received a flyer about how to become a kidney donor – I read it and thought: why not?

"I am an impulsive person and I will admit that I did not immediately tell my family.

"My husband Paul and daughter Cassie were worried but they knew I could not be stopped.

"The trial lasted a year and the doctors tested everything they could, so I had a full MOT.

"I had the operation in April and I was in the hospital for two days.

"I had two keyhole incisions and they went through an old scar, but I gave the surgeon permission to cut me open if they couldn't do it with a keyhole.

"I did not want the person waiting for my kidney to be told that they would not get it.

"They took the left kidney because my right one was larger, and they leave the larger for you.

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Bev Bradbury Jones

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Bev had a tattoo made after the operation

"A few days later I could feel my inside moving to fill the opening, which was strange but that has now stopped.

"I have been told that if anything ever happens to my remaining kidney, I will be treated as a priority issue.

"I have recovered very well, I am working as a store clerk again and I have started running again. I hope to participate in the British Transplant Games in Newport later this month.

"I don't know who had my kidney just that they were not in Wales and that they were very bad.

"I just hope they feel a lot better now. I would like to meet them, especially if they have a similar sense of humor and we can laugh about it.

"After the operation I received a silver pin, which was very special, I got a tattoo because of what it means."

& # 39; I have donated to my Twitter friend & # 39;

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Geoff Crowther

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Jamie Bowen (L) and Geoff Crowther (R) became friends in 2016

Geoff Crowther, 65, from Hayfield in Derbyshire, became a direct donor in February by donating his kidney to friend Jamie Bowen, 46, from Resolven, Neath Port Talbot

"I became friends with Jamie on Twitter after he asked for my advice about wild camping equipment.

"I used to be a leader in the Kinder Mountain Rescue Team and I have a reputation for the great outdoors.

"He came to visit us in 2016 and we started: in September 2017, Jamie was diagnosed with a chronic kidney disease and dialyzed early in 2018.

"I asked my wife Chrissie how she would feel if I gave Jamie one of my kidneys and she agreed.

"I sent him a message because I knew that if I called him we would end up in a flood of tears.

"Within 48 hours I was put in contact with a living donor coordinator.

"I had blood tests with my doctor that were sent to be cross-checked with Jamie.

"When we found out I was a competition, I was referred to Manchester Royal Infirmary, where I had the operation in February.

"I had my surgery & # 39; in the morning and my kidney was blue-lit to South Wales and stopped in Jamie the same day.

"The process took nine months, and that was sometimes frustrating. You were warned that the tests could find something that you didn't expect.

"We were also often asked about our friendship because it is illegal to sell organs in the UK.

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Geoff Crowther

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Geoff said being described as a hero is "shameful"

"It became a concern if they decided that we didn't know each other enough, but it was fine.

"I underestimated the operation, I had read that it was like having an appendix but I felt completely washed after it.

"I was in the hospital for three days and I was told not to pick up a backpack or set up a bike for six weeks. I was completely aware of not doing it and followed the advice.

"People have described me as a hero who feels a bit embarrassing, I feel privileged to be in a position to help."

Jamie said: "I thank Geoff every time we speak. The life on dialysis was hell and it's fantastic to have my life back.

"The experience has changed my perspective, I used to be very focused and now my health comes first."

& # 39; I get emotional when I think about it & # 39;

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Christian and Helena Amodeo

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Helena received a kidney as part of a three-way exchange, while her husband also donated his kidney

Christian Amodeo, 42, from Cardiff, donated his kidney in November 2015 as part of a kidney sharing scheme. His wife Helena, 41, received a kidney from another donor on the same day.

"Helena was diagnosed with the hereditary Alport Syndrome disorder in her late 20s.

"It causes kidney failure in men – her brother has had two kidney transplants – but usually not in women.

"We got married in 2010 and wanted to start a family, but it didn't happen.

"By the late 30s, her kidneys started to deteriorate faster and it resulted in kidney failure.

"She was told that she would be placed on a list and hoped that something would come up.

"That's when I said I'd like to consider giving Helena one of my kidneys.

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"I was put in contact with the coordinator of the living donor at the University Hospital of Wales and she was my contact during the whole process.

"Helena had many doctors around her, but I felt she had my back.

"I started testing in January 2015 and by August they said I wasn't a great match.

"We stopped in the sharing scheme and the transplant took place in November 2015.

"It was a three-way exchange – my kidney went to a man in Northern England, his donor gave a kidney to someone in Ireland and their donor gave a kidney to Helena.

"The operations all took place on the same day, I had my operation in the morning, but Helena had to wait for her kidney to arrive.

"It was strange to go to the hospital and feel sick, my recovery felt slow, but I feel no different now. The birth of our daughter last year felt like the end of the journey."

Helena Amodeo said: "I get emotional when I think about it.

"I'm not sure I could have done it." What Christian and my donor have done is enormous and I will be eternally grateful, I probably won't say enough! "

What do the experts say?

Rhian Cooke is a donor coordinator for living donors at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.

"People must be able to donate physically and psychologically.

"There is no maximum age limit for donors, we have had donors in the & # 39; 70.

"We only work for the donors and we work independently of the transplant team."