Dad donates kidney to save son’s life

Pic: George McLuskie
Pic: George McLuskie

A young Ceres man once facing an uncertain future has paid tribute to his ‘selfless’ dad who gave him the gift of life by donating a kidney.

George Portwood (22) was so ill that he spent much of his time sleeping and was told that his only chance of recovery was a transplant.

He had been born with Alport Syndrome, a genetic disorder which causes renal failure, and from the age of four his parents, Graham and Denise, knew he would eventually need a new kidney.

But they were shocked when last summer, aged just 21, George began to experience extreme fatigue and was told by doctors at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee that he was suffering from renal failure.

He was put on a waiting list for a transplant but Graham was so worried about how long he’d have to wait for a match that he decided to be tested himself.

“We always knew George would need a transplant at some point but we really hoped he would be a bit older when the time came,” said Graham.

“He started to deteriorate very rapidly though, so when we were told he would need a kidney transplant, it was a natural reaction for me to see if I could put myself forward.

“I have two other sons but I felt they were too young to go through the process so I was delighted when all the tests came back saying I was a match.

“Just before the operation, George was sleeping all the time, had dark circles under his eyes and wasn’t the George we knew. Denise and I couldn’t have wished for a better outcome though.

“The operation went very smoothly and the team at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, where the transplant took place were faultless, the professionalism of each department involved was exemplary.

“My recovery was also very quick with me returning to work part-time after six weeks, but most importantly, we finally got our son back.”

Now George is back working part-time at his dad’s alloy stockholder company in Kirkcaldy and says he owes him a massive dent of gratitude.

“Although I was a good match with my dad, at first my body started to reject his kidney, which made me feel pretty awful and emotionally distressed,” he said. “But luckily after four days I was feeling much better and the kidney started working. I was out of hospital after 10 days and I can honestly say I’ve got my life back.

“I went back to work in January part-time and I don’t have to sleep during the day anymore, giving me more time to just live life like a normal 22-year-old.

“If my dad hadn’t given me such a generous gift, I would currently be one of the many renal patients stuck on dialysis waiting for that life changing call, and who knows how long that could have been, or if I would have even made it to the transplant.

“It’s the most selfless gift someone can give and I’m forever grateful for this. I know I’ve been extremely lucky and will always be grateful for the gift my dad gave me.

“However, I do realise some people aren’t as lucky as I am to find a match within their family so I’d urge anyone who wants to be an organ donor to share their wishes with their family and friends.”