Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Woman, 54, celebrates 23 years with kidney transplant

The typical patient will live ten to fifteen years longer with a kidney transplant than if kept on dialysis. The years of life gained is greater for younger patients, but even 75 year-old recipients (the oldest group for which there is data) gain an average four more years' life. People generally have more energy, a less restricted diet, and fewer complications with a kidney transplant than if they stay on conventional dialysis. (source: Wikipedia

Lucky donation: Helen Williams is living life to the full 23 years after her kidney transplant. Picture: Ari Hatzis


HELEN Williams is passionate about organ donation because it returned her life to her.

The 54-year-old Glenroy resident received a much-needed kidney transplant 23 years ago.

At 22, Ms Williams was diagnosed with chronic reflux nephritis, a kidney disorder. It had not caused her any serious symptoms or pain.

She was told she would eventually need a kidney transplant. By the time she received one 10 years later, her condition had deteriorated.

"I was green, the colour of broccoli, with big and bulbous eyes," she recalls. "I was very thin and weighed 47kilograms.

"I was on a very strict diet. But I tried to keep myself occupied and travelled as much as I could."

In the seven weeks leading up to her transplant, Ms Williams was on dialysis four times a day.

"It was a waiting game. I had a little pager I carried around waiting for the call that would save my life."

That call came at 2am one morning and by 2pm the next day the four-hour transplant operation was complete. "I was a new person. I was reborn," she says.

"I could drink and eat what I liked, I had energy. I could travel again."

This week is DonateLife Week, which encourages Australians to talk with their loved ones to make them aware of the importance of organ and tissue donations.

Ms Williams said she had been transformed by the "gift of life".

She works as a personal assistant at the National Australia Bank and is a member of Transplant Australia.

"It's a life-changing experience," she says.

"Without this I would not be where I am now. It makes you realise how lucky you are. I am free. Every year is a milestone for me. I do often think about it.

"To be given the chance I've been given you cannot thank that person enough. We are lucky some people are generous enough to become donors."

There are about 1700 Australians on waiting lists for organ and tissue transplants, including kidney, heart, lung, skin tissue and cornea.

For more information, visit www.donatelife.gov.au

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Register to be an organ and tissue donor & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Register to be a donor in Ontario at Trillium Gift of Life Network NEW for Ontario: recycleMe.org - Learn The Ins & Outs Of Organ And Tissue Donation. Register Today!
For other Canadian provinces click here
In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at ShareYourLife.org or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov
In Great Britain, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
In Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You

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