A BENDIGO man says a kidney transplant he received from his wife was the best gift he has ever received.
David Stewart and his wife Glenys have both recovered well after a successful transplant operation when Glenys donated one of her kidneys.
The operation has helped David overcome a 40-year battle with kidney disease after he was diagnosed with hereditary polycystic kidneys – an abnormal growth of cysts in the kidneys that reduces kidney function – in the 1970s.
David’s health recently deteriorated and his kidney function fell to 10 per cent, so the couple looked at whether Glenys could be a suitable donor.
Months of exhaustive tests found that although their blood types did not match they were compatible, and Glenys was able to go ahead with the donation.
“I was initially hesitant with concerns for Glenys’ ongoing health,” David said.
“But we were assured that apart from a few surgery scars Glenys would not feel any different. I knew I had limited time with the kidney that I had,” he said.
Glenys said because she was in good health there were very limited long-term health risks.
“The surgeon told me I would be a great donor,” she said.
“Because I’m quite healthy, I’m able to continue to live a healthy life with just one kidney.
“I was absolutely delighted.”
David said her decision to give up a kidney was by far the most selfless gesture in their 39-year marriage.
“You couldn’t expect any greater expression of love, than to give up part of yourself for another person,” he said.
After the operation David said they’ve both enjoyed good health.
“The initial problems were stressful for the family but our quick recovery and ongoing good health since the transplant have overshadowed the difficult times,” he said.
“Before, I was struggling to walk a couple of kilometres and now I walk three kilometres most mornings.”
David said the operation has had a profound impact on his life and prompted him to encourage more people to become organ donors.
“There’s such a shortage of suitable kidneys in Australia,” he said.
“One fellow in hospital with me had been on dialysis for seven years waiting for a suitable donor.
“I would say to anybody who thinks they might be able to donate, it’s one of the best things you can ever do for somebody.”
Glenys, the Bendigo branch president of Embroiderers Guild Victoria, joked that she was glad she was able to stitch up her husband.