Long-time Fife Flyers fan Cath Buchan is looking forward to the new ice hockey season even more than usual this year.
That’s because she knows it will be one she will be able to enjoy to the full, without having to worry about whether she’ll be well enough to attend the games.
Cath (54) is savouring every day of feeling full of energy after undergoing a kidney transplant back in April. And each day she is living life to the full after years of struggling with ill health.
“I really didn’t realise just how ill I was until afterwards,” she told the Press.
“It was a gradual thing which crept up on me and it goes back four generations in my family. The symptoms really started in force after I underwent the menopause.
“What happens is that cysts grow on the kidneys and impair the kidney function, so the toxins aren’t getting properly flushed out of your body and it can’t regulate your adrenaline or the amout of potassium in your body.
“I was constantly feeling tired and kept having to go for naps and my stomach was getting bloated while my skin and eyes looked yellow from all the toxins.
“My kidneys really started failing when I was into my 40s and I had to really watch what I ate, but I was very lucky in that I never had to go on dialysis which can weaken your body even further.
“I was constantly being tested and when my kidney function fell very low, I was eventually put on the transplant list.
“I was very, very lucky in that I was only on it three weeks when a kidney became available. I think part of the reason was because I have a very compatible blood type.”
Cath got the big call at 6pm on April 20 telling her that a kidney had become available and they were doing tests to see if it was viable. Then four hours later she was asked to make her way to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, from her home in Moodiesburn, where she underwent various tests for compatibility.
“There were the longest hours of my life, just waiting to see if it was going to go ahead, but eventually the next day at 2.30pm I was prepared to go down to theatre.
“Obviously I don’t remember much about it, but the operation took around three hours and I was doped up on morphine for a few days afterwards.
“However I remember by the Saturday night I was starting to feel much better and I was only kept in the hospital for five days.
“Since then it has been a gradual recovery process, building up my strength and having regular checks to ensure everything is working fine. At my last check the kidney function had levelled out around 72 per cent, which they are really pleased about.
“When I recovered from the operation the first thing I noticed was that I was buzzing with energy and I really had to pace myself and not do too much at once because I felt like I could take on the world!
“My appetite has more than recovered, because just before I had my transplant I was hardly eating at all. Now I can eat most things, I’m constantly eating, and it’s great to have all the things that I love but couldn’t have because my body couldn’t cope.
“I have to take a lot of tablets, but that’s a small price to pay for my new lease of life, and it’s only now that I am better that I realise how ill I was and how life limiting my kidney failure was.
“My family – husband Ian, son Andrew and daughter Louise – have been fantastic in supporting me, and they have really all been there for me.”
And Cath, who has organised regular Kidney Research UK fundraising events at Kirkcaldy ice rink for the past three years, has vowed to continue to support the charity.
“I will be forever grateful to the donor and their family who have given me this fantastic second chance of leading a full life, and if ever there was a reason for the Organ Donation Register, my story is it.
“I would urge everyone to make sure they go on the donor register because they could save the lives of up to nine people.”
Over the years Cath’s Flyers’ fundraisers have raised around £10,000 for Kidney Research UK, with match funding provided through Barclay’s bank on all the donations raised.
There are three million people in the UK currently living with kidney disease and there is no cure.
Kidney Research UK is the leading charity committed to developing treatments, giving patient information and raising public awareness to help save more lives. If you would like to make a donation or get involved in its work, please visit www.kidneyresearchuk.org.
Liz McGuiness, community fundraiser with Kidney Research UK, said: “We are delighted that Cath, one of our invaluable volunteers, has had a successful transplant, and that it all happened so quickly.
“As Cath knows, she really is the exception to the rule.
‘‘The average time waiting for a kidney on the transplant list is 1000 days.
‘‘Many people with kidney disease can spend years on life-limiting dialysis and five people die every week while on the waiting list. This is why the generosity of our supporters and the efforts of volunteers like Cath are so important in enabling us to fund lifesaving research helping people live longer and better lives.”