A GRATEFUL man has described how he was ‘given his life back’ after a remarkable Sheffield widower donated his own kidney to help his friend get off dialysis.
Darren Ferguson’s kidneys failed when he was a baby – and the 30-year-old had almost given up hope of finding a donor after years of searching.
After two unsuccessful transplants from people who had died, doctors told him his only hope was getting a donation from a live person.
Every member of his family and several friends were tested to see if they were a match – but each came back negative.
But then school worker Lee Ferrigon, aged 35, from the Manor, Sheffield, stepped in.
As The Star revealed last week, Lee’s world caved in a year ago, when he lost his wife Keisha to stomach cancer aged just 32.
But the Meadowhead School inclusion manager was determined to turn his grief into a drive to help others.
Milton Keynes-based Darren, who knew Lee through a mutual friend, had nearly stopped believing he would ever be free of dialysis.
He told The Star: “I had been through two failed transplants and the doctors said my body would continue to reject any kidneys from donors who had died. So I needed a live donor. My family was tested and nine friends also put themselves forward. But nobody came back a match. My back was against the wall. I felt like I might as well get used to being on dialysis.”
Lee contacted Darren in March this year to offer to be tested as a potential donor.
“Lee was a friend, but not someone so close that I could ask him for something like this,” said Darren.
“Nobody discussed it with him – he just decided he was going to do it. He said to me: ‘This is something I have to do.’
“He said he couldn’t help Keisha when she was ill and he felt it was his chance to help someone else instead.”
Tests revealed Lee was a match and the two men went into surgery in August. Three months later, Darren’s new kidney is working well.
“It’s amazing,” said Lee, who is married to Amanda and works for an online import and export business.
“I’m off dialysis and the doctors are happy. It’s hard to describe how grateful I am. Lee has truly given me my life back. He has been through so much – but to be able to put himself aside for the benefit of someone else is very special. He’s an amazing man.”
n Lee will launch the Keisha Ferrigon Foundation at a gospel fundraising concert on November 27.
New Hope, starts at 6.30pm at St Paul’s Mercure Hotel in the city centre. Tickets are £10.