Today, 11th of March is World Kidney Day.
Two kidney transplant recipients have spoken about the reality of living with kidney disease.
Fiona Davies, 39, from Airdrie, and Ross Young, 48, from East Calder, both diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), have shared their gratitude for the transplants that have given them their lives back, and the chance to see their children grow up.
Fiona and Ross have backed the campaign to raise awareness of the forthcoming organ and tissue opt out law, in the hope that it will get people thinking about their donation decision.
Fiona was diagnosed with PKD as a teenager, which she successfully managed until the birth of her son James in 2012 impacted on her kidney function. She reached end stage kidney failure in October 2016, and was listed for transplant in March 2017. Her transplant went ahead just three weeks after she was put on the waiting list.
Speaking about the impact kidney disease and her subsequent transplant had on her life, Fiona said:
“Looking back, I had no idea how ill I actually was towards the end. I was getting through life, but was constantly tired and had no concentration. Motivating myself to do things became harder and harder.
“I wanted to hold off dialysis until my son started school, but could start to feel things dipping. I had restless legs and couldn’t sit for any length of time, I felt sick when I ate and was in bed for 7.30pm every night.
“I got the call just minutes after my son’s fifth birthday party and the transplant surgery all went to plan. I was home six days later and things just got better and better. It’s quite unbelievable the change it’s made to my life and I have my donor to thank for that.
“I am very pleased that Scotland is moving to an opt out system. You don’t truly understand the impact of organ donations until your life is touched by it and I hope that the move will help increase the number of viable organs available and help those waiting. Because of organ donation, my son has his mum back, and I have a future.”
There are currently around 420 people in Scotland waiting on a kidney transplant, many of whom are on dialysis to keep their kidneys working.
Ross was diagnosed with PKD in 2003, and has since found that his two sons, now 13 and 16, have the same hereditary condition. His kidney function deteriorated to the point that he was listed for transplant in March 2010, and received his transplant in November 2010 after only ten weeks on dialysis.
Scotland’s opt out law, which will be introduced on 26 March, means that if people aged 16 and over haven’t recorded a decision about donation, they will be considered a possible donor if they die in circumstances in which they could donate.
People have a choice – to be a donor, or to opt out of donation – and the campaign is encouraging people to record their decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register, and share it with family.
Informing family is important, as under the new law, they will still be consulted to check what their loved ones latest views on donation were. This is to ensure donation doesn’t proceed where the individual didn’t want it to.
Talking about the law change to an opt out system from 26 March, Ross said:
“I wouldn’t say life on dialysis was easy, but I knew it was keeping me well, and then the transplant changed everything.
“I have always felt strongly about the law changing to an opt out system, and I even approached the Scottish Parliament, which is when I learnt the wheels were already in motion for the Bill. I am really pleased to see the law finally coming into action. It’s the simplest way to make a difference while making sure everyone knows they’ve got a choice. If you don’t want to be a donor you just have to opt out.
“Knowing that both my sons have the same condition as me, I’m grateful for developments like the law changing before either of them finds themselves in the position I did.”
For more about the law change, and to record your donation decision, visit organdonationscotland.org or call 0300 303 2094.