A Cupar woman has given her brother the gift of a healthy new future by donating one of her kidneys.
Pete Colford, who lives in Balmullo, had been suffering constant tiredness and flu-like symptoms for a while before doctors discovered that his kidneys weren’t functioning problem due to a birth defect that had previously gone undetected.
Pete (49) said he was given medication to stablise his blood pressure and told that he would probably need a kidney transplant when he was in his 70s.
However, over the last three years ago Pete’s health deteriorated rapidly and in June last year was told he would need a transplant.
He said: “I was really tired all the time and had to go on light duties at work.
“Sometimes I wouldn’t go out because I was so tired and constantly felt like I had a bad cold or flu.
“I talked to my family about having to find a donor and both my twin sister Margaret, and my other sister Kate Noakes, volunteered.
“After some tests it was decided that Kate was the most suitable donor and the fact that she had taken early retirement helped too as she wouldn’t have to take time off work to recover.”
Kate, of Edenbank Road, said: “Even though I am more than 10 years older than Pete, the doctors said I was the best genetic match.
“After some tests and a meeting with a psychiatrist and an independent assessor who made sure I was completely happy about everything, I was asked when I would be able to have the operation.
“All the way through the process staff at Ninewells and at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, where the operations took place, have been fantastic.
“We have met a lot of people and each person has been so professional, helpful and supportive.
“I was told by surgeons that I could change my mind even at the last minute, although I was always going to go ahead with it.”
Kate said that even though she had a “big birthday” in July, surgeons were happy to work round her plans, but she said she wanted to get on with the operation as she knew how ill Pete was.
The operation took place on August 3 with Pete going in two days earlier for anti-rejection treatment, while Kate went in just the day before to get some more last minute tests.
She said: “I wasn’t nervous at all. We had met with the surgeons twice the week before and I had complete faith in them.
“My operation – which was via keyhole surgery – lasted two and a half hours while Pete’s lasted for four and a half hours.
“We were in adjoining operating theatres and I was operated on first while Pete was being prepared for surgery.”
Kate said that while her husband Alan and her sister Margaret were quite anxious, staff kept them informed of progress all the time.
“The surgeons knew that the operation logistically had been a success but it would take some time to see if Pete’s health would begin to improve.
“I was very tired after the operation and even now definitely get tired more easily and sometimes get a bit of discomfort but that will wear off and the end result was definitely worth it.
“Anyone who donates a kidney will also get an annual medical check for life after the operation, which is very reassuring.”
Pete, who spent three weeks in hospital afterwards, said he immediately felt better.
“Before the operation I would always wake up and still be tired but as soon as I came out of the anaesthetic I felt so much better,” he said.
“I still have to have check-ups at Ninewells Hospital, but hopefully these will become less frequent.
“I have also put on two stones’ in weight and am hoping to go back to work soon.”
Praising his employers, Quaker Oats in Cupar, for their understanding, Pete added: “I have only worked there for four years and for the last two I have been quite ill, but they have been great and very understanding when it came to giving me time off for doctors appointments etc.”
Following their experience both Kate and Pete are now urging other people to sign up to the UK Transplant Organ Donor Register or to become a live donor.
Kate said: “I think it is so important, you can really change someone’s life.
“If my kidney had turned out not to be suitable for Pete after all, I had signed a consent form saying it could go to someone else who needed it.”
Thanking his sister for her amazing act of generosity, Pete added: “Kate has given me the chance to have a normal life now.
“Although it is less common to have a living donor, people can do this or, more commonly sign up to the donor register which means someone has the chance of life.”