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Having donated a kidney to a stranger, even though was a while ago, word got around and I was asked by a newspaper to do an article. The article was going to appear regardless of whether I participated or not, so with the hospitals permission, I did and was also allowed to disclose which hospital it was at.  So I would now like to publicly thank so much all the medical and non medical staff in the Living Donor Programme at the Churchill Hospital, Oxford. They are truly amazing and wonderful people. It has been an honour and privilege to have got to know them and to have been part of the team that enabled this donation to successfully go ahead. I have nothing but praise for everyone there. Over a long period of time I got to see them at work – speaking with the patients and of course evaluating me for the kidney donation.  There was always a smile and a cheery face, no matter how tired any of them were. People were made to feel welcome and I certainly felt relaxed and comfortable during all my visits there.

I am getting the praise for donating a kidney, but without the excellent and dedicated team at the Churchill Hospital, my wish to do this would not have been possible.  They have dedicated their lives to helping people and watching them at work, it is all too obvious just how much they really do care about their patients and the work they do.

I have nothing but admiration for them all and my thanks goes out to each and every person working there. There were also  many people that worked behind the scenes, both medical and non-medical, that I never got to meet. To them I also give my deepest thanks.

It takes a team of people to make this kidney donation happen and the Churchill Hospital have an absolutely fantastic team.  I know I have come away from this experience with memories I will cherish. My life has also been enriched by numerous people I came across – patients as well as hospital staff.

Thank you everyone involved in the donation, I will never forget any of you. We are so lucky to have people like you in this world. I have nothing but praise for you all and for the NHS.

With many thanks
~ Di Franks ~

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18 Responses to “Churchill Hospital, Oxford – First non-directed (altruistic) Kidney Donation”

  • Rick:

    Well done Diane
    I read the online article in the Newbury paper about you. I am one of the many who have been following your story. A relative of mine needs a kidney and I kept quiet for a long while. I then found your website and really felt inspired so offered my cousin they could have my kidney. I feel very positive and we are looking to late October. Your story has really boosted my confidence to do this and my hospital team are also very supportive.

    Rick

  • Diane:

    Hi Rick
    I am so delighted that my story helped you come to a decison regarding your cousin. What an exciting time for you both. I wish you well and would really like to hear how you get on.

    All the best
    Di

  • Tony Jessop:

    How inspiring! More should be made of this form of organ donation. I think the government needs to bring more awareness. Have you thought of doing a campaign yourself? I read right through this blog and what you have done is so inspiring. I do not know of anyone in need of a transplant but feel if I did I would be one step nearer to offering one of my kidneys. How many people so far have donated to a stranger do you know.

    Absolutely marvellous!

    Tony

  • Diane:

    Hi Tony,
    Thanks for your comments, I appreciate it. I have actually thought about a campaign, but .. well… that is not my forte to be honest, I can’t get my brain beyond the fact I really would like to do more to help. So if anyone reading this is up for doing a campaign, then I am at the front of the queue.

    The latest statistics on non-directed donors I believe is 10 people put themselves forward in the first year, 15 in the second year and 23 this last year. They were all approved to donate, but how many of them actually did I am not sure, I would have thought all of them??

    You know a lot of attention goes to non-directed donors but just as much should go to people who donate to their family or friends. They go through exactly the same evaluations etc, in fact it must be more stressful and emotional for them as they know the person they are donating to.

    As far as i am aware 1 in 3 kidney donations comes from a living donation opposed to deceased.

    All the best
    Di

  • Zara:

    Wow! What an amazing thing to do. A friend of mine donated part of a liver to her son. Do you think you would donate part of your liver to someone now you have with your kidney? I have read on your forum that tests that are done are not the same for each person. Why is this. I would like to think I am fit enough to do this (not that I am as not my scene)and would not want any tests missed out.

    Do you think the day will ever come when doctors can clone kidneys as they can animals (and no doubt people). I find it all rather scary.

    Zara

  • Diane:

    Hi Zara,
    Thanks for reading and posting. Re liver donation. At the moment it is not legal in the UK to donate part of your liver to a stranger. If it was legal then I do not think the hospital would allow me to donate having only one kidney now and also the risks are too high for a non-directed liver donation I believe. It is much riskier than donating a kidney.

    As for the tests involved to make sure people are healthy and fit enough to donate a kidney, yes they can vary from hospital to hospital. Some potential donors will require more tests or different ones. Each person is assessed individually. Kidney clones … well …. I am sure one day they will be able to grow kidneys or do something wonderful like that. If you think back over the years how medical science has progressed so much, it is incredible. For now though, the more people that sign the organ donor register the better as not all organs from deceased people can be used. And if anyone feels like donating a kidney now, then I will do all I can to help and support. Just visit either your doctor or nearest Transplant hospital to make an appointment.

    Thanks
    Di

  • Christine:

    I am donating in the New Year = non=directed. I got the idea to donate from your blog. Truly inspirational. I am in USA Washington. Have been following your blog since last summer. I looked forward to each update. I wish also I could do more to help.

    Thank you for sharing this with us. There are many blogs about donation but reading one as it happened was great. Could not wait for the next update.

    Chrissy

  • Diane:

    Hello Christine,
    Thank you for finding and following my blog. I am so chuffed it inspired you to donate.

    lol .. someone did say to me it was like reading a “soap” and waiting for the next episode.

    You can do more to help! …. check with your friends and work colleagues and see if they have signed the Donor Register. Have some forms with you and give them one if they have not. If far more people signed the Donor Register perhaps not so much reliance would be put on living donors.

    Also giving blood. Check to see if people donate blood. Then there is bone marrow donation. For the men there is blood platelet donation.

    Thank you for donating. One more person and their family get to lead a better quality of life now.

    With Blessings
    Di
    x

  • Harvey Mysel:

    Although I’m in the U.S. if you are interested we could discuss how to honor donors with this award.

    Since starting the Living Kidney Donors Network I’ve wanted to develop a program to honor living donors. I’d welcome getting your feedback on the following.

    To honor living kidney donors, we have created the Living Kidney Donors Network “Starfish” Donor Appreciation Award. The award is a hand blown glass Starfish, approximately 6 inches long.

    The Starfish is a symbol from a story, (which is included with the Starfish,) where a young man takes starfish that have been left after low tide and throws them back into the ocean before they die. When the young man tells a stranger what he’s doing, the stranger points out that there are miles of beach and asks how can the young man possible make a difference…the young man picks up a starfish, runs into the water and throws the starfish beyond the breaking waves….then comments to the stranger “made a difference to that starfish….”

    The story goes on to show the impact that one person can have and ends with the quote: “There is no greater joy or greater reward than to make a fundamental difference in someone’s life.”

    To read the whole starfish story and to learn more about this award: http://livingkidneydonorsnetwork.org/donor_recognition.html

    Regards,

    Harvey Mysel
    Living Kidney Donors Network

  • Diane:

    Hi Harvey
    The starfish sounds great. It is indeed a good idea to honour donors. Perhaps you can get the respective transplant centres to do something official as an automatic “thank you”?

    We do in the UK have our own gift to give living donors. Magdi Shehata, a renal transplant surgeon at Nottingham University Hospital, commissioned the design and production of a pin to be given to living transplant donors, in recognition of their generosity in donating one of their organs to someone in need of a transplant. The scheme was launched in Nottingham in 2007 and was very successful.

    The scheme has now been officially adopted by NHSBT (NHS Blood and Transplant) and has been rolled out nationally to include all living donors. The pin is sent with a letter of thanks from Lynda Hamlyn, Chief Executive NHSBT.

    You can read about the commission and see the pin on the designers blog here http://rarelizzie.wordpress.com/2008/02/29/living-donor-pin-project/

    I received mine and it is really lovely. It is kept safely in its box as a lifetime momento.

    Best wishes and Merry Christmas
    Di

  • Sue:

    Hi There. Just want to say well done. But what does it means by “first”in the article title? Is it the first live kidney donation at that particular hospital?

  • Diane:

    Hi Sue,
    Thanks for posting.

    No it is not the first “live” donation at the hospital but the first non-directed i.e. to a stranger, at that particular hospital. The donation operation was done at Churchill Hospital but I did not know who got my kidney or where the recipient’s hospital was. Hope that clarifies it for you. It was also the first non-directed kidney donation in West Berkshire.
    All the best
    Di

  • Carole Laker:

    Hello Di,I read the article in The Mirror with interest as I also did the same thing.I was the first non directed altruistic donor for the south east. I am glad you had some feed back from your recipient I havent yet but hope eventually to get a line or two saying how their life has changed. Best wishes Carole Laker

  • Diane:

    Hi Carole,
    Yes it is nice to hear how they are doing. The hospital first informed me a week or so after the operation (I asked them to find out) and then I got a letter from my recipient a few weeks later, which was unexpected and I got very emotional reading it.

    I look forward to the day when more people have signed the organ donor register so living donation is not relied on. Hopefully one day that will happen.

    Thanks for posting and hope you recovered with no problems after your donation.

    All the best
    Di

  • Angela:

    Hello Di

    I have been reading your site for a couple of days now and thank you so much for all the honest information. I have undergone all the tests to donate to my brother and we have a provisional date in December for the op. We are waiting on final decisions from his consultant as we are differnt blood groups but everything else is a perfect match so the hospital are in the process of deciding if we can do ahead, by treating his blood to help it accept the organ. We too are going to the Oxford centre and your blog has really helped me to prepare my family and myself. Thank you

  • Diane:

    Hi Angela,
    I am so pleased my blog has helped. Churchill is a wonderful center and the people are amazing there. December not that far off now. I have heard about how blood has to be treated in the recipient when the blood from donor is not a match – how clever is that!

    Please let me know when you get the go ahead.
    My thoughts are with you both ..
    Di
    x

  • Angela:

    Thanks Di

    We have had the go ahead and the op is all booked for the 13th December. Bro has to start the blood desensatizing on the 3rd – its truly amazing that they can do such a thing! We have our final pre-op tests next week then its all systems go!

    Still finding your website brilliant what a great resource thank you so much.

    Angela

  • Diane:

    Hi Angela
    13th – day after I move house, I will be thinking of you both on that day.

    I have heard of the desensatizing before but not too sure exactly what it involves but will do some research so am more informed of what can be done – but yes … absolutely amazing.

    You are both in my thoughts and prayers. Fingers, toes and anything else that I can cross, are crossed! lol ….

    All the best
    Di
    x

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