Grandmother who donated her kidney to a stranger: ‘I wanted to give someone a chance who has nobody’
- Credit: Archant
'If I had three kidneys, I'd go through it all over again.'
Those were the words of a 64-year-old from Wells who donated her kidney to a stranger, setting off a chain reaction which ultimately saved three people's lives.
Diana Reynolds was working as a carer when she saw a man in his 70s on the news who had become a living donor.
And it got her thinking about her age, and whether she was too old to do the same.
She said: 'This 70-year-old man had thought if he got to 70 and all his body parts were working, if he's got two good kidneys, then he will donate one to someone.
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'I just thought well if I do it and I'm in my 60s, if I go on to my 80s then great don't want to get to 100. In my job, I had not found a 90-year-old who had said I'm happy being 90.'
So after doing some research Ms Reynolds set about the long process of becoming a donor.
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'They send you this wonderful pack and they put no pressure on you whatsoever from start to finish,' she said. 'You can then call them up and say yes or no, you have to do all the running, it took just over a year.
'First of all they check you physically and then they go into your head. You see a doctor who wants to know why you think you want to do it.
'I just said I wanted to give someone a chance who has got nobody.'
At no point did Ms Reynolds think about backing out, and only felt a little trepidation as she was being wheeled down to theatre.
'I never had any doubts from the day I thought I was going to it,' she said.
And even though she said she had never felt pain like it when she woke up - 'And I've had three children,' she added - that did not put her off.
She said: 'If I had three kidneys I would go through it again.'
Ms Reynolds does not know anything about the person who received her kidney, except that it was taken to London.
She said this was unusual as usually the person would be in the room next door ready to receive the organ.
'I did have an awful feeling it might get dropped,' she said.
But she was told the transplant, in December 2016, was successful and in fact had triggered two more to take place in a chain reaction.
'That felt absolutely wonderful,' she said.
And even though she would have liked to have heard from the person who received the kidney, who is able to send a card, she understood for some that would be difficult.
'I just hope it's working really well,' she said.
'I started off this chain reaction and that's even better because it's thee people getting a new kidney.'
Ms Reynolds' three children were also supportive of the decision, even though it came as a surprise.
She said: 'I think they were all very shocked to start with, but they all know they have got a mum where it does not really matter what they say.
'Quite a few people have asked what will happen if one of them needs a kidney but I'm not going to need to do it, as they've got each other, I'm doing it for someone who has got nobody.' According to NHS Blood and Transplant, the number of living kidney donors has hit an eight-year low.
There were 990 living kidney donors during 2017, a 10pc decline on the highest ever year 2013, and the lowest figure since 2009.
It said the decline is particularly worrying because living kidney donation has always been a success story in the UK, accounting for more than 40pc of all donors and a third of all kidney transplants for people waiting.
Ms Reynolds, a grandmother of 11, added: 'I would honestly say to anyone in their 60s and 70s and they're fit and able to just go on a few websites, just go on and look at how poorly some people are and just think what you can do.'
• To find out more about living kidney donation, visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk/livingdonation