GRANDAD John Methven was visiting Scotland when the call he’d been waiting for came - his chance at a new life was here.
Transplant surgeons at the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield finally had a donor kidney to replace John’s, which had been ‘destroyed’ by his health disorder.
And just hours later a panicked John had made it back to the hospital.
He said: “I got the call and the doctor said, ‘Can you get to Sheffield quickly? Get down here as soon as you can’.
“But when I got there I had high potassium levels because I’d got so worked up on the way down and they had to wait a bit.” John, of Staincross, Barnsley, had spent two months in intensive care after he was diagnosed with vasculitis, which causes inflammation of the blood vessels, in 2005.
He said: “The doctors told me that, as well as killing the nerve endings, it was destroying my kidneys.
“I spent two months in intensive care and was told there was a good chance I could last a few years without dialysis - and that lasted until 2008.
“From then I had to go to a mobile unit three times a week for dialysis treatment. It really ties you down and takes four hours a time. They say it takes five years off your life but now I’ve got a new kidney I should get some years back. Without the transplant my condition would eventually have been terminal.”
And the difference to John’s life following the operation is marked. “It’s fantastic,” he said. “After dialysis I used to feel okay but then the following day you know you need it again. Now it’s almost like I can forget all that.”
But John and fellow kidney transplant survivors Deborah Revill, Roy Simpson and triple transplant survivor Iain Morley, of Lincolnshire, are the lucky ones. They all had their operations at the Northern General in the same few days, at the end of December, and are on the path to recovery, although they will have to take anti-organ rejection drugs forever.
Others are not so fortunate, like the five patients who have died waiting for an organ transplant in South Yorkshire since last April.
The Star has backed a campaign to get 12,000 more people on the NHS Organ Donor Register before The Westfield Health British Transplant Games come to Sheffield in August. We want to save more lives through the miracle of transplantation.
An emotional John, who is writing to the bereaved family of his kidney donor to say thank you, said: “Everyone should be signed up to the donor register.
“I think about the person and their family because they’ve given me this chance at life. I feel sorry for them but I am extremely grateful.”
* Signing up takes just minutes and can be done online at Organ Donation texting SAVE to 84118 or by calling 0300 123 2323.
* Joining the register records your agreement to the use of your organs and tissue for transplantation after your death.
* Tell your family. Almost half of donors’ intentions cannot be honoured because families were unaware of their wishes.
* We want to recognise everyone who signs up to the organ donor register as part of our campaign.
* To be included in our roll of honour please email email@example.com or write to The Star, York Street, Sheffield, S1 1PU.