Husband is perfect match for donor transplant

TO mark National Transplant Week last week, a Codicote couple, who know first-hand the importance of donor registration, tell their remarkable story...

When Codicote resident Sandie Beck was diagnosed with polycystic kidneys in 1982, a life on dialysis beckoned.

A hereditary condition, polycystic kidneys initially cause high blood pressure, which can be easily treated, but ultimately leads to kidney failure.

Having already lost her mother and sister to the disease, Sandie was faced with the inevitable – find a kidney donor, or spend the rest of her life on a dialysis machine.

As her condition worsened, the mum-of-three finally began undergoing tests for transplantation in 2006, with five of her friends and her husband Colin putting themselves forward as potential donors (because her condition was hereditary, she could not accept a kidney from a family member).

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“Once the results came back – to everyone’s amazement – Colin was the closest match,” said Sandie, now 57.

“He didn’t hesitate and underwent the tests needed to make sure that he was fit and well enough to undergo the surgery involved.”

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The operation was performed at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge in 2008.

“We were in side-by-side operating theatres,” said Sandie.

“Colin had one of his kidneys removed through keyhole surgery, which meant that he recovered very quickly and went home after four days. My operation, on the other hand, was much more complex and required full surgery.

“We were both treated on the same ward, although in separate bays. It was nice having Colin so close by and I was able to go home three days after him.”

Now 65 and retired, Colin has suffered no ill effects after giving up his kidney.

Sandie, meanwhile, is now a chaplain at the Lister Hospital in Stevenage, where she was initially treated prior to her operation.

“For me, the best thing about having a new kidney was that spontaneity returned to my life,” she said. “Up until then, everything revolved around my dialysis.

“Before getting my new kidney, I would never have known that non-related people can donate – and to friends and colleagues.

“This means that many more people can benefit from kidney transplants – especially if everyone signs up to the organ donation register.

“I have my life back thanks to the generosity of my husband Colin, for which I will be forever grateful.”

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