Camelon man awaits transplant

Martin Strang is on the waiting list for a kidney and pancreas transplant
Martin Strang is on the waiting list for a kidney and pancreas transplant

Since Martin Strang found out he needed an organ transplant, life’s not been the same.

The 39-year-old from Camelon has been desperate for a phone call for 19 months – but he’s still waiting.

Martin’s on dialysis to sustain his failing kidneys, but, as a type one diabetic for the past 36 years, he also needs a pancreas transplant.

And, as a potential recipient of dual transplant – a procedure that will mean a 12-hour operation – he can’t travel more than two hours from the hospital.

The insurance broker, who still works full-time in Glasgow, described it as life in limbo.

He said: “Since I’ve been on the transplant list, there have been huge differences to my life. I am on dialysis and, as the operation is to be carried out in Edinburgh, I can never be more than two hours drive away from the hospital.

“I also can’t be away from dialysis for more than two days otherwise I’ll be seriously ill.

“I now receive dialysis at home, which my wife Mary Ellen helps me with, so she also has to be with me.

“It means no holidays or time away at all.

“It’s constantly on your mind that you are waiting on a call.

“My overnight bag has been in the car for months.

“You’re told the call will most likely come in the early hours, so every night you wonder if it’s going to be the day.”

When he was 36, Martin, originally from Milton Keyes, was told he would need dialysis to remove the toxins from his body as his kidneys were not coping.

He said: “Dialysis itself is like walking a tight rope.

“I’m only allowed a litre of fluids a day. This includes milk, gravy, soup, pasta, anything that is liquid.

“You also have a ‘dry weight’ limit which you are supposed to keep at. Basically the more liquid weight you put on, the more time you spend on the dialysis machine.

“I had dialysis at hospital for six months then I started receiving it at home, which was great because it meant I could keep working.

“But you are always waiting for the call.

“My message really is, if you want to be an organ donor, don’t think about it, just do it.

“It’s giving someone else a decent life rather than letting your organs go to waste.”

Across the Irish Sea, Bainsford’s Helen Muirhead is also waiting.

Now living in Belfast, Helen (49) goes to hospital three times a week, spending four hours each time on dialysis.

“You’re exhausted all the time,” she said. “It changes your whole life.

“You are just shattered. Things like walking to the shops or getting out the bath are a real struggle. Even going out for a drink with your friends is really difficult because you have to control your fluids.”

Mum-of-three Helen had suffered problems with her kidneys for years, but in 2009 things got worse.

“One minute, I was telling the doctor I was tired all the time, the next I was told I’d need dialysis.”

After a battle with cancer and dropping seven stone, Helen was placed on the transplant list six months ago.

“People just need to sign up to be donors and to tell their family,” she said.

“They need to think how they would feel if it was a member of their family waiting for a transplant.”