Stenhousemuir woman donated a kidney to save a stranger's life

A Stenhousemuir woman who donated a kidney to save a stranger’s life has talked about her experience ahead of tomorrow’s World Kidney Day.

Donating a kidney to someone in need was something Kendal Delaney had considered for many years, but the timing had never been right.

However, in January 2021, Kendal, 35, decided to register her interest, and last December, she became a living donor at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.

Following the successful surgery Kendal, who works as a celebrant and supply teacher, is recovering well.

Kendal Delaney from Stenhousemuir, a celebrant who was a living kidney donor

Living kidney donation plays a vital role in increasing donation and transplantation rates in Scotland, with a kidney from a living donor generally offering the best outcomes for patients in need of 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.

Since 2009, over 100 people in Scotland have made the decision to donate one of their kidneys altruistically.

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Through raising awareness that living donation is an option, the hope is that more patients living with kidney failure can avoid or reduce the time they have to spend on dialysis, and have a better quality of life.

Kendal, from Stenhousemuir, said: “Years ago, when I first started teaching, I learnt that a colleague of mine had donated a kidney to a relative of hers. From that moment it was on my radar that you could be a living donor, but I very much thought it was only something you could do for a family member.

“It was actually when the law on organ and tissue donation was changing, that I found myself reading up on it, and discovered you could register interest in being a non-directed donor.

“In January last year, I felt that the timing was right for me to take those first steps, with work being as it was, as well as my age and lifestyle. I just downloaded the forms from the website, providing a little bit of information about my health and I was contacted by Julie Glen, a Living Donor Transplant Coordinator.

“After that I was in about once a month for different checks and a full health MOT. I felt very cared for and everything is explained to you at every step of the way. The team constantly reassured me that you can stop at any moment.

“I was then entered into the round for the UK Living Kidney Sharing Scheme, to see if I was a match for anyone. Everything went quiet for a while, and then in early November I got the phone call to say that they’d found a match. A date was set for the surgery, and I was able to donate my kidney in December. The whole experience was wrapped up in a year, which felt very apt.”

Talking about the surgery, Kendal said: “Going into the surgery, I’d had regular contact with the donation team so was very reassured. I had to self-isolate for the week before, and my mum drove me through for my very early call at the hospital. From there I met the whole team, was taken into theatre at 9am and was back on the ward by tea time. At that point the team checked in on me again, and told me they were going to check in on the recipient. The next morning I got the fantastic news that my kidney had been transplanted and the operation had gone well!

“The team in the hospital were fantastic, I was so well looked after, and at a time when things are so hard for hospitals, it’s reassuring to know that the staff are still giving really excellent care.

“Three days later I was discharged from hospital and was taken very good care of by my family when I got home. Six weeks later, I was back driving and a couple of weeks after that I was feeling back to normal, starting to get back to exercise. Part of why I put it off until this age, was that I knew I’d need a six-week recovery time, but I was back to celebrancy work just a few weeks after the operation, and teaching not long after that.”

Speaking about her hopes for the recipient, Kendal said: “I really hope that somebody out there has seen a real change in their health and gone back to living a full life. Knowing that I’m able to get back to my life so quickly, I’d hope that someone else could have that freedom too, especially when you see the impact dialysis has on people and their families.

“If you’re considering becoming a living donor, there’s a lot of information out there, and that was a good starting point for me in figuring out if this was for me. Get in touch with the living donor teams – there’s absolutely no pressure at all, but they’re so helpful in making sure it’s the right decision for you. Knowing that I could’ve completely transformed someone’s life and be back to my normal self only a matter of weeks later is amazing.”

Jen Lumsdaine, Lead Nurse, Living Donation Scotland said: “This story demonstrates how living donation can transform the life of someone living with kidney failure. A person can lead a completely normal life with one kidney, and anyone can volunteer to find out more about donating, but it must be something they choose to do and feel comfortable doing.

“Living donation is an exceptional gift, and although Scotland has an opt out system of organ and tissue donation, living kidney donation continues to play a vital part in improving transplant numbers, so more lives can be saved and transformed.”

To find out more about living donation visit livingdonationscotland.org

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