Transplant joy for North Walsham kidney donor champion

Paul Welsh with his wife Mandy and their daughter Rebecca, 14.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY Paul Welsh with his wife Mandy and their daughter Rebecca, 14. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Friday, July 11, 2014
9:10 AM

Kidney donor campaigner Paul Welsh is looking forward to a future of health and freedom after undergoing a transplant operation he feared would never happen.

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Mr Welsh, 51, from North Walsham, received an urgent morning call from Addenbrooke’s Hospital to say doctors believed they had a suitable kidney and he underwent the delicate operation the same night.

Now he has renewed his appeal – in National Transplant Week – for people to sign the organ donor register and help some of the growing number of 6,000 people in the UK, including 400 in Norfolk, waiting for a kidney.

Although it is early days, Mr Welsh and his family are crossing their fingers that his new kidney will be successful and that he can look forward to many years of improved health and freedom from 12 hours of weekly dialysis, “shackled” to a machine at Cromer Hospital.

Mr Welsh, who was allowed home to Honeysuckle Close on June 30 – just 11 days after the operation – said: “There are a few unpleasant side effects from the anti-rejection drugs but they can be fixed – overall I’m on a pretty good high at the minute.”

This is the third transplant father-of-two Mr Welsh has received. The first, in 1997, failed after five years. And in 2008 his wife Mandy donated one of her kidneys but his body rejected it after about 18 months.

The particular anti-bodies produced in his blood as a result of those two transplants had made hopes of a future match more difficult and Mr Welsh said he had received about seven previous summonses to Addenbrooke’s when an organ had become available - including one in April - but had been sent home again each time after tests ruled it out. As a result, he had not been free from dialysis since about 2002.

“It was such a relief to wake up after the operation. I had kind of said to myself it was never going to happen,” said Mr Welsh, a community champion for the Kidney Research UK charity.

“We need to get more organs into the system. Most people won’t have the complications I did but the more donors in the system, the more opportunities there are for the awkward ones like me. Because of somebody’s kindness, we have cracked it. I can’t thank that person enough.”

Mr Welsh hopes to return to his job as a motor mechanic in the autumn and he is looking forward to time for hobbies and holidays without having to plan his life around three-times-a-week dialysis sessions.

■ To find out more about organ donation, and to register, visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk or ring the organ donor line on 0300 23 23 23.

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