23 Jul 2020

Rachel’s story

My name is Rachel Gibson and I would like to share my story of leading up to My Kidney Transplant.

I was born with a TOF (Oesophageal Atresia and Tracheo-Oesophageal Fistula) which is a complex rare Congenital Abnormality which affects the Bowel, Reproductive System and the Upper Chest and only occurs in 1 every 3.500 babies.

I had also developed Renal Hypoplasia (Small Kidneys) and both my kidneys were fused together which are commonly known as horseshoe kidney. I started to get urine tract infections from a young age and was on constant antibiotics and this led me to being diagnosed with Reflux Nephropathy and had to endure numerous operations to correct overtime causing my bladder to become neurogenic which meant it was unable to completely empty of urine causing Hydronephrosis of the kidneys, the only I was able to pass urine completely was with the aid of a indwelling catheter even so this came with its drawbacks such as site infections.

When I was Nine I went to Great Ormond Street in London to have further bladder surgery (Urethroplasty) as mine was narrowed and had scar tissue this was a success and I was taught how to Self Catheterise this give me the freedom away from having the catheter’s in and the annoyance of a urine bag trailing behind me all the time.

As I was growing up I had a very happy childhood went on family holidays even though I did miss a lot of school due to being in and out of hospital which I though was quite cool at the time.

I had to endure more surgery when I was Seventeen it came to light my bladder wasn’t working properly and couldn’t empty and was causing damage to my kidneys so I underwent a bladder augmentation (Clamcystoplasty) which basically is piece of Ileum (Small Intestine) to make my bladder bigger its amazing when you think about it.

But over the years my bladder started to develop a lot more infections and due to the lasting damage my kidneys had already endured from the reflux nephropathy I was told I had CRF stage 3 (Chronic Renal Failure) in 2006 and that I would eventually would need a kidney transplant in my life being only 21 at the time I didn’t fully understand the implications of this.

In 2011 my kidney function did start to decline and I was referred to Consultant Nephrologist at my local hospital and the discussion of transplant was brought up and that transplant workup was put in place, my now husband then came forward to be tested to be a potential donor to me but unfortunately he wasn’t which was blow to us. Then my dad realised he could be a match as he is a Universal Blood Group so he came forward to be tested it was a lengthy process, during this time I was becoming unwell more getting more fatigued   and getting closer to having dialysis then we got the news we had all be waiting for my dad was a perfect match for me and we got the date for the Transplant to go ahead in Manchester which was on the 19th Oct 2012 which was performed by Mr Ashfin Tavakoli everything went really well I remember being wheeled back to the ward and asking where my stuff from Primark was and that I could murder a cup of tea, the transplant was producing lots of urine and the next morning I immediately felt different the colour had come back to my face and no longer felt tired the next few days I was getting out of bed and walking about and my dad coming to see me and thinking my dad has just saved my life with an amazing gift and how incredibly lucky I was I decided to name my Kidney Poirot in honour of my dad. I was able to get on with my life 2013 I got married and my dad proudly walked me down the aisle and celebrated with family and friends. I was a bridesmaid for my sister who was married in Cyprus in 2014. I’ve been on some fantastic holidays with my husband as well.

I have recently just reached my 7th Year of transplant which I celebrated with the gifted organs choir by recording a couple of songs with them they are being released next year., All I can say my life had definitely changed for the better I was given a second chance by the brave and selfless decision of my dad I honestly don’t know how my life would of planned out I might not even be here today able to share my story with you, one thing is for sure that others are going through this and are not so lucky waiting for that special gift of life and that life is precious and that organ donation can improve lives so much not only for the recipient but for the whole family because it does leave an impact this is why its so important to tell your loved one your wishes and sign up to the Organ Donation Register so others can live on.