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PRICE OF A LIFE: Artist Ken donated a kidney to his daughter
This week we are running a series of features on organ donation and how they can change the lives of people who have transplants.
Today, EMMA DUNN reports on a man’s remarkable sacrifice for his daughter
SINCE donating his kidney to his daughter in 2009, life has stayed the same for Ken White.
But for his daughter Laura, who had kidney failure due to an auto-immune disease, life was transformed as soon as she woke up.
Ken, 69, an artist who lives in Old Town, said he has never looked back.
“When we went for the surgery I was scared to death, I was really worried. I was just thinking ‘I hope it is all going to work’ because you’re going into the unknown,” he said.
“I was scared for both of us and what we were going to have to go through.
“After what she had been putting up with for all those years I knew I didn’t want her to carry on like that. She spent a lot of her 20s going to Oxford.”
Ken and his wife Janet were both tested to become donors but Ken was chosen because his kidney scored a six out of six on the organ donor point system.
He said: “I was hoping it would be me. I didn’t want my wife to do it. The surgery was awful for my wife because all she could do was sit and wait. I went in first and then they prepared Laura.
“When I woke up I was a bit achey but I felt fine. I walked around to see how she was and she said she felt it immediately, which was amazing.”
Laura, who works as a personal assistant, still visits Great Western Hospital once a month for check-ups.
Ken said: “She has got her energy back again. She is working like mad in London.
“The whole thing has been good and bad. Bad because of what she went through before the surgery but good because she has got her life back again.
“I don’t feel any different – I have just had something taken out. There is no difference in how I am at all. I am glad I did it. It is just something you do, it’s just part of life.”
Laura, 33, who now lives in London, said: “I am feeling a million times better, I have got lots of energy and I can go out now and just enjoy myself.
“I am not feeling sick or tired, it is just such a huge transformation. It is a blessing that I think about every day. It’s not something you ever forget, it stays with you.”
The NHS Organ Donation Register is a national, confidential list of people who are willing to become donors after their death.
It can be quickly accessed to see whether an individual has registered a willingness to be an organ donor.
Ken and Laura both said they would like organ donation to change to an opt-out system.
Laura said: “It is something that isn’t really in people’s consciousness. I wish there was more push for it and I wish the system would change. It is very important.”
PLEASE JOIN THE REGISTER
THE Organ Donor Register is currently an opt-in system. It relies on people signing up to agree to donate their organs – but donors can choose which organs they donate.
More than 10,000 people in the UK currently need a transplant. Of these, 1000 each year – that’s three a day – will die waiting as there are not enough organs available.
Everyone irrespective of age or health and who is considered legally competent can join the NHS Organ Donor Register.
Anthony Clarkson, assistant director of organ donation and transplantation said: “Each year, half a million people die in the UK, but of these only approximately 4,000 die in circumstances where they can donate their organs.
“If you should be one of those, it’s important that your family know that you want to donate your organs. So please sign up to the Organ Donor Register and have a conversation with your loved one, so they know you want to be a donor.”
To join the gegister visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk/how_to_become_a_donor/