A FATHER and daughter have handed over close to £5,000 to a renal patients’ charity to mark 15 years since he gave her the ultimate gift.
Geoff Smith, 67, saved Rachel Drane, 41, from a life of dialysis when he gave her a kidney when she was 25.
They discovered she had kidney problems when she fell off a horse aged 10, and they needed to be operated on her.
It was found she had narrow ureters – the tubes connecting the kidneys to the bladder – causing waste to build up in the organs.
Rachel, of Holmfield, Halifax, said: “I was born with it but only found out then. If I hadn’t fallen off the horse, the doctors said my kidneys would have got bigger and bigger and just popped and I would have died around the age of 22.
“At 10 they were already twice the size of a woman’s.”
One kidney was removed when she was 14, but the other failed 10 years later. It meant she had to undergo twice-weekly dialyis sessions, in which she was hooked up to a machine to clean her blood, for three months.
The hairdresser said: “It wasn’t very pleasant. The first time it took two and a half hours just to get the needle in my arm.
“It felt like I’d been hit over the head with a brick after, so I used to just go straight to bed. It completely wipes you out.”
The only other solution was a transplant, so her dad and her mum Barbara, 67, were tested as potential donors. Geoff was a perfect match.
The retired Calderdale Council worker, of Bailiff Bridge, Brighouse, said: “The surgeon said we were like brother and sister, we were that compatible. I was just pleased I could do it. I think anybody would be.”
Rachel has to take drugs to weaken her immune system and stop her body rejecting the organ for the rest of her life.
It makes it easier for her to catch infections, but otherwise she is living a normal life again.
To give thanks, the family organised a fund-raising ball together with Rachel’s friends Pam Morris and Sarah Rushforth, to mark the 15 years since the transplant.
The event was held at The Venue in Bowers Mill, Barkisland, in aid of the St James’s Kidney Patients’ Association.
It will be put towards a new relatives’ room in the renal unit at St James’s Hospital in Leeds, where Rachel was treated.
Paul Taylor, secretary of the association, thanked them and said it would help create a much-needed peaceful space for patients’ loved ones.
• The family are urging people to sign the organ donor register to help people in need, like Rachel was. Visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk.