FEATURE: Sheffield brothers take advantage of genius kidney swap scheme

Sam undergoes dialysis as Josh looks on.
Sam undergoes dialysis as Josh looks on.
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When Sam Blackburn needed a second kidney transplant his younger brother Josh wasted no time in offering to donate his own.

But they were in for heartache when medical tests revealed that Sam was unable to receive the organ due to antibodies that had built up from his first transplant.

Josh just before having his kidney removed.

Josh just before having his kidney removed.

But the two brothers remained undeterred and signed up for a unique kidney-swapping scheme which meant Josh donated his kidney to a stranger - enabling Sam to receive a healthy kidney from someone else in return.

After spending 18 months hooked up on dialysis machines through the night, Sam is now enjoying a new lease of live.

And he said it is all down to the NHS's paired/pooled donation (PPD) scheme - and his generous brother of course.

Sam, aged 32, of Killamarsh, said: "The donation is life-changing. It's not much fun when you are on dialysis at times. You have to change your diet, it causes problems for travelling and it makes you feel very tired.

Sam after the operation.

Sam after the operation.

"But I feel great now, I have so much energy.

"The scheme is incredible because it shows all is not lost if you come across a problem. It's quite simple really - you put a kidney in, and get a kidney out in return."

Sam was born with chronic kidney failure and has had to undergo about 20 operations in his life so far. This included the removal of his right kidney and part of his left one when he was a baby.

He received a transplant from a deceased donor in April 2007, but by early 2015 his new kidney was failing and he was put back on dialysis to help clean his blood.

Sam's brothers and sisters all offered to be live donors but none of them were matches due to a build up of antibodies in Sam’s system that would have rejected the organ.

But the family turned to the paired/pooled donation (PPD) scheme and everything changed.

Brother Josh, aged 26, of Handsworth, was deemed to have the healthiest kidney and he donated it to a stranger through the scheme. In return, Sam got a kidney from another stranger.

Both underwent their operations on the same day at Sheffield's Northern General Hospital in July.

Sam said: "I'm so grateful to my donor and to Josh. It shows that people really do care for you in your hour of need."

The product sales executive told how he wanted to speak out about the PDD scheme to coincide with Organ Donation Week between September 4 and 10 and to encourage others to donate organs and save lives.

He said: "There is nothing better than knowing you have given the gift of life."

Since launching in April 2007, the PPD scheme has resulted in more than 700 transplants taking place.

For more information visit www.odt.nhs.uk