A MUM who waited for more than two years to receive a new kidney has called her husband a ‘hero’ after his kidney donation to a stranger ensured she got her life-changing transplant.
Mark and Fiona Elliott, from Burton-in-Kendal, are now recovering at home after undergoing surgery at the same time.
Mrs Elliott has a rare underlying health condition which has gradually affected her kidneys and was forced to go onto dialysis two and a half years ago when she became seriously ill and her kidney failed.
The only way out of the tiring and lengthy dialysis process was a kidney transplant.
“It’s hard being on dialysis. I had to have it five times a week for several hours, it’s like having a part time job,” said Mrs Elliott, 52.
“And after each session I would feel tired and weary.
“You have to arrange everything around the dialysis. It always had to come first because it kept me alive.”
Unfortunately, Mr Elliott, who is BBC Radio Cumbria’s executive editor, was told he was not a direct match for his wife and was unable to donate one of his kidneys to her.
They eventually discovered the national kidney sharing scheme where couples are paired up in a bid to increase the chance of a match.
“It was pretty much a no brainer,” said Mr Elliott, 55. “I’ve watched Fiona suffer ill health for twenty years and it’s hard. You can give support but this was a way of actually making a fundamental difference.
“It affects me and the kids too. It was the right thing to do for all of us.
“When I first said I wanted to do it Fiona said no because she didn’t want me to put myself through that.
“It’s been a long process. it’s been two years since we started having tests and scans to see if we were both suitable for transplants. The national kidney sharing scheme is amazing.
“Pairs of people in the same situation as us. One of them needs a transplant and the other is happy to donate but isn’t a direct match and they put them all in a pool.”
Mrs Elliott, a mum of two, added: “I find it amazing that Mark has done this that he’s selflessly had this major operation for me and our family and I think he’s a bit of a hero.”
The transplant has meant Mrs Elliott currently does not need to be on dialysis.
However, there are still ‘complications’ for the couple, who have been together for 21 years, to overcome.
“Fiona still has her condition,” said Mr Elliott.
“And there’s still some complications we’re working through now so we’re not out of the woods yet but hopefully they’ll be sorted soon and we can start living again.”
Mrs Elliott, who carried on working as a lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire throughout her illness, added: “I haven’t had to dialyse since I had the operation. It makes a massive difference and the kidney is doing well.”
She stressed the need for more people to donate organs.
“Please let your family know what your wishes are because there are lots of people in need of organs,” she said.