05 Aug 2021

Emma and Stuart’s story

Me and Stuart became a couple on 16th September 1995. 10 years later we married on 16/09/05 little did we know that day saying our vows in sickness in health and I’d even picked I can be your hero by Enrique Iglesias what was to come in our future. He is diabetic we didn’t fully understand the complications that could follow. We Have 2 grown up children now 25 & 21. Around 2013 we found out Stuart’s kidneys were failing and was functioning at 35%. At this time we didn’t know anything really about kidney failure and transplants even though he has had 2 brothers with kidney failure who have sadly passed away. Fast forward to 2017 and we knew that Stuart would need a transplant soon as his function had dropped to 20%. As his function had been dropping for a while we had discussed all the options about transplants and dialysis options. I spent a lot of time researching transplants and the procedure I would have to go through to be tested. As they wouldn’t start the testing until he was at 15% it was a waiting game. I was ready to start testing and we just really wanted to know if I was a match for him or if we would go with the pooled option.

Stuart rang me 1 day in October 2017 after his Kidney hospital appointment his function had dropped and they wanted to get him ready for dialysis or a transplant. The day after I rang the living donor co-ordinator at Salford royal and she sent me a form to complete and bring with me to my first appointment in November 2017. The day arrived and I was quite nervous as I hate blood tests! The co-ordinator put me at ease about the blood tests and it was no where near as bad as I thought! Was feeling very pleased with myself after that appointment. I had to wait for blood results to say if we was a blood match and a tissue match. To my surprise I got a call that night we was a blood match. That was 1 test passed it’s actually very nerve racking waiting for the results. Every okay is 1 step closer to being able to donate. My co-ordinator then booked me for an appointment with someone who would check I was fully aware of what I was doing and to check my mental health. That was early January and was a really nice meeting she was really nice and asked me what I knew about donation. I told her everything I’d been looking at including a book about living donations on amazon. This book was quite true to everything I did. I got home that day feeling really positive. We’d not been home long and Stuart had taken our dog for a walk when I got that the call to say we were a match! I was quite emotional then and Stuart was shocked we were a match.

So onwards to more tests. Days after that Stuart was admitted to hospital with vomiting and his function dropped to 9% he started to get better and was discharged the day before i had to go to hospital for a kidney function test. I had to be there for 10am and was having hourly blood tests and a scan to determine my kidney function. Finally got out about 3pm as was so hungry you can’t eat while on this test from the night before. I went straight to marks and Spencer’s for a butty! Results came in at 120 so another test passed. I was then booked in for x-ray and CT scan for the end of January. From the letters I was worried we would be there all day but was only there 2.5 hours. Booked in then took to put a gown on then they put a cannula in to administer they dye for the scan. It was all run to perfection, no waiting. In for x ray then took for scans where they put the dye in. This is the one where you feel like you’re peeing yourself! Also left a funny taste in my mouth. Then back to x ray then told to go for a wee then back to x ray. There was no waiting; they took me straight in. I felt like it went so quick I don’t know if Stuart felt the same. He was sitting in the waiting room with all my clothes! Through all this our coordinator had kept in touch. I was struggling with how to tell people as I was worried my family might try to put me off. I knew exactly what I was doing and did not want anyone to have a negative thing to say to me. Our children knew about every test and were fully behind my decision. So I decided to only tell the people who needed to know at first work obviously as I would need time off for appointments and they have been fantastic about everything. I then had an appointment in February to meet a doctor to go over my results. So this was it I was either going to be told yes or no. I will admit I was very nervous before this appointment and it didn’t help that it had snowed that night so I was late and stressed. Turns out they were all late. Well blood pressure was a bit high when I got there no surprise there. Seen the coordinator then went to see the doctor. It’s one of the most nerve racking things I have ever been through. You really want to be able to donate you know in your head and heart you want to but it all comes down to results and the doctor.

The doctor was happy for me to go ahead as long as my 24 hour blood pressure check was okay. This was booked for 27th March. It was slightly uncomfortable and was going off every half hour during the day and every hour at night. It actually only woke me once. So we then just had to wait for the doctor to check the results and forward everything on to Manchester Royal. He finally said yes everything was fine and everything was sent off to the surgeon. We got our appointment for April at Manchester Royal We were both quite nervous that day we didn’t know what to expect. It was a very straightforward appointment. We met our surgeon Dr Tavakoli and he went through the operation with us both and all the things that could go wrong. Nothing I hadn’t heard before. To our surprise he checked his calendar and said I can do the operation on the 29th May! So that was it all go from there. We had our pre op which was a quick appointment to go through our admission and we both had another ECG. A couple of days later they had to move the op back by 1 day.

We were busy up till then getting the house tidy and ready for when we were both recovering. The 29th finally arrived and we had to ring the ward at 2pm to check our beds were ready. They weren’t and were told to wait for a call. That finally came at 6pm so that was it we was going. I was nervous. I was still worried in case it couldn’t go ahead for some reason. Admitted had blood tests and met nurses etc. Operation morning arrived and they got me up nice and early! Got into my hospital gown, saw a surgeon and an atheist to go over everything again. They said I would be going down at about 8.30am. So I decided to go and see Stuart before I went. He looked more nervous than me! Only managed to see him for a couple of mins and they came to take me down. I had a really nice porter and a lady who stayed with me from taking me from the ward till I was put asleep. Next thing I know there waking me up in recovery. I wasn’t sore, just very thirsty. Not sure how long I was there just that I was back on the ward at 3pm was very groggy but they’d removed my kidney successfully and Stuart was still in theatre. A few hours later Dr Tavakoli came to see me to say all had gone well with Stuart and he would be back on the ward by 8pm. I don’t really remember much else about that day. Think I just slept. So Thursday morning arrived and Stuart texted me to see how I was. It was the first contact we’d had since the op. He was sore but doing okay. The nurses said I could go and see him that day. They removed my catheter that morning and I was able to try to get up. That first time was really hard and that was when I really felt sore. It was sore to move and walking was at a snails pace. I tried to see Stuart that afternoon but he was having a scan so I went back to bed. I wasn’t very well that night and didn’t manage to go back to see Stuart. Friday arrived and I was determined to see Stuart that day. I had stopped feeling sick so made the walk that afternoon for such a short walk it took me ages. I could see a difference in him straight away even though he was still on his drips and drains. Think it was then that it really sank in that it had gone ahead and was so far working. I was feeling a lot better by Friday night and even though it was sore I managed to get about a bit more with the help of a towel secured over the cut with my dressing gown strap! That helped a lot. Stuart creatine was dropping and function was up. Saturday morning I was told I could go home! It was really nice to get home even though I spent the next 4 days in bed most of the time. I kept in touch with Stuart all the time mainly him checking I was resting and not doing anything! I have 2 adult children at home that helped me through the first few weeks they cleaned and did shopping for us. We did have a scare when they was concerned about Stuarts creatine and it really frightened me to think that the kidney could reject but they said to him that as I’m only small this was to be expected and the surgeon had to do a bit of work on my kidney before it was placed in Stuart. So panic over.

He was discharged exactly 1 week after the op and had to go back to the clinic twice a week. I won’t lie, the next few weeks were very hard for me. I was on painkillers for 5 weeks. What was amazing was that Stuart was doing so much better than me. I was always tired and walking anywhere took me ages. To help with the pain I was using a hot water bottle as well. We’ll after 7 weeks we both returned back to work. Stuart was on once a week at the clinic. My creatine was 90 and kidney function 61 so I am very happy. I don’t have any regrets at all about my decision to donate and would do it again if I could!