Norwich man donates kidney to father-in-law
A Sprowston man has a lot to thank his son-in-law for – after his life was transformed by a donation of his kidney.
Kevin Thomson, 57, had to undergo hours of gruelling treatment in hospital four times a week. But a lifetime of dialysis was avoided when he got the chance of a new kidney.
Mr Thomson, who has suffered from kidney disease ever since he was born prematurely, was given the organ by his daughter's husband Kelvin Woods.
Today he said: 'I feel alive again. I've got my life back.'
The pair both went under the knife on April 4 at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge so one of Mr Woods' kidneys could be transferred. They are now recovering from the major surgery.
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Mr Thomson, of Coughtrey Close in Sprowston, said: 'I was born premature and all my life I have been getting worse. I had been on dialysis for two and a half years then out of the blue Kelvin said he wanted to give me his kidney.
'I could not believe it when he said he was going to donate it. It was a bit emotional really. He is a lot younger than me and it is something that he felt strongly about.
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'It has already made a huge difference. It was only three weeks ago and I am out and about and feel better.
'If I hadn't had it, things would have got worse and worse. I couldn't do anything. I felt washed out.'
Mr Woods, 30, who has three young children with his wife Gemma, said he knew it could have been a long wait for Mr Thomson to get a new kidney. When he was tested, the pair had a good tissue match.
He said: 'Nobody else came forward. I offered myself for testing to see if we were compatible. It came back as positive. We were a good match and I started going for all the tests that needed to be done before the operation.
'I made the decision more for my kids and my wife. He is my wife's dad and my kid's grandfather.
'When I heard we were a match I thought it was fantastic. It made me feel better knowing I could do something. If I hadn't been a match then I thought there would be nothing I could do about it.'
He said that in the long-term he did not believe donating the kidney would damage his health.
'There is an extremely slight possibility that my one and only kidney might fail in the future. But I thought the reward would outweigh the risk,' said Mr Woods who has a small bouncy castle hire business and lives in Cawston.
He said that the couple's five-year-old twins were not really aware of what was happening, but his 11-year-old daughter Sophie had been concerned.
'She was worried about Dad going into hospital, but we tried to be as reassuring as we could. She is proud of her Dad,' he said.
Mr Thomson said he and his wife had worried about putting Mr Woods through the ordeal. He said: 'I think if you aren't worried about it then you aren't human. I was worried because of my daughter and the grandkids, but we got this far and then they said yes.'
Mr Thomson, who was a transport manager at Blakes Self Loading Vehicles in Costessey before he became too ill to work, said that constantly having to go on dialysis had taken over his life.
'It involved going up to the N&N four times a week. It takes around four hours each session. That is 16 hours of your life each week. Some people have to travel from far away. It was affecting my work and the days I didn't have dialysis I felt washed out.'
He is also looking forward to a good steak dinner, having previously had to follow a special diet.
And he urged others to seriously consider donating a kidney as it really could change someone's life.
'I would tell people to seriously look at it. It is a serious operation, but it is a safe one. If you have got relatives, you should go for it. In 12 months I should be leading a normal life. I liked to go walking and fishing but I had to give up because I couldn't do it.
'My grandchildren are just amazed. They understand what their Dad has done for me and they are over the moon.'
Mandy Wilkinson, renal transplant co-ordinator at the N&N, said: 'It is a wonderful thing that Kelvin has done for his father-in-law Kevin. Kevin now has a much better quality of life and can now enjoy his time with his wife Jackie, his children and grandchildren.'
She urged people to carry an organ donor card, and to tell their family of the decision.
Have you done something amazing for a family member? Contact reporter Annabelle Dickson on 01603 772426 or e-mail email@example.com.