New kidneys mean I'm raring to go

William Henderson says he's a lucky man.

At just 56, he's had two kidney transplants, including one which he waited five years for.

But the dad-of-two from Laurieston is positive, inspiring and appears to have taken the whole thing in his stride.

He's even gone so far as to climb Ben Nevis with his daughter to raise funds for the local renal unit and the Kidney Kids charity.

Stories like William's are just some of the reasons why The Falkirk

Herald is putting all its support behind the national drive to encourage as many people as possible to sign up to save a life and join the Organ Donor Register.

There are more than 8000 people in the UK who are waiting for an organ transplant including over 600 in Scotland.

And the vast majority of Scots on the list are waiting for a new kidney,

William knows this feeling well.

At just 29, married to Janice and with two young daughters, the mechanical fitter fell ill.

He said: "It was 1985. I was working in the garage and thought I had the flu.

"I had a sore head, I was running to the toilet all the time, feeling sick and had really bad cramp.

"I went to the doctor and they told me one of my kidneys had stopped working and the other was just working a little bit.

"I was admitted to the Glasgow Western and went on dialysis.

"They told me they couldn't save the kidney, but they were going to stabilise me and try to find out why my kidneys had failed.

"You just think your world has ended, like someone has hit you on the head with a sledge hammer.

"Even when the doctors are talking to you, you can't take it in.

"It wasn't until I started to talk to other people that I understood I wasn't alone."

For eight months, William was on dialysis several times a week, which meant constant travelling back and forward.

He said: "We finally got a dialysis machine set up in the house. The council fitted it out to hospital standards and my wife was trained in how to use it. That really helped me.

"I was having dialysis in the house for about six weeks when I got the call that they had a match for me. I went to Glasgow, had the operation and felt fine.

"It was a difficult time for my family. My daughters were younger then so it was difficult, but then you get the call and forget it all."

William had his operation in May, and was back at work in October.

He said: "I was quite healthy otherwise and I kept fit so that helped."

William's first kidney lasted 14 and a half years.

He said: "They can't tell you how long it's going to last. It could be a year, five years, 10 years, you just don't know."

In 1999, William became ill again, and medics knew what it was.

This time, it was a long five years before the call about a new kidney came.

"It was hard for my family, especially my wife.'' he said. ''She was working at the time and then coming home to give me dialysis and I'd maybe only be coming off at one in the morning.

"You just have to hope that the call will come one day.

"And when you hear about people from the clinic getting the call and it gives you hope."

In 2004, William had his second kidney transplant, he said: "It went well and I've been fine ever since.

"I'm just a lucky guy.

"I now have a five-year-old grandson, Crawford, and it's great to have the energy to play with him.

"Looking back, we just had to take things as they came. That's the hand you're dealt; we just got on with it.

"It's always in the back of your mind – what if this one packs in? – but you can't think like that all the time."

Five months ago, William and his younger daughter, Lyndsay (26) scaled Ben Nevis.

He said: "It was Lyndsay's idea. She came home one day and said she was going to do it, so I said to put my name down too.

"After that it just spiralled out of control."

A dozen people took part, raising money for several charities, but the Hendersons collected 1440 to split between the renal unit in the new Larbert hospital and Kidney Kids.

William said: "It was a challenge, but I'll give anything a go.

"The weather was good except for at the end when it really closed in on us, but I really enjoyed it."

As far as the Organ Donor Register campiagn goes, William belives everyone has to consider signing up.

He said: "I think everyone should be in it automatically, and then if they need to they can decide to opt out.

"But, everyone should, without a doubt, think about joining the Register.

"What would they do if they needed it, or if their son or daughter needed one? How would they feel?

"The system is there for everyone so everyone should be part of it."

And William has some words of wisdom for those waiting for a transplant.

He added: "Talk to people. You're not alone, and there's always hope."

William and Lyndsay would like to say a big thank you to everyone who took part in the Ben Nevis climb in July for different charities. They are: Alan Kennedy, Michelle Kennedy, Jennifer Kennedy, all from Stenhousemuir, Debbie McKendrick from Grangemouth, David Burton from Wallacestone, Paul Russel from Stenhousemuir, Nicola Nielsen from Denny, Andrew Gardiner from Stenhousemuir, Arlene Campbell from Polmont.