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Wednesday, 14 February, 2001, 08:41 GMT
Waiting years for a transplant
Organ box
Donor organs are in short supply
In 1993, Gordon Nicholas, who suffers from kidney failure, was told to rush to hospital - he had the chance of a life-transforming transplant operation.

However, when he got to hospital, he found he had competition for the precious donor organ, in the form of a patient in a far more serious condition.

And so a three year wait continued for Gordon, punctuated by dialysis sessions three times a week, until he finally received a new kidney a few months later.

When he was first diagnosed with the condition in 1977, doctors had given him only a 50/50 chance of even making it onto the dialysis programme.

"I was lucky my illness was detected so early and I didn't need dialysis immediately. Others were not so lucky."

However, 13 years later he was ill enough to require dialysis, and the weekly routine began.

"I can't tell you what it was like to be kept alive by a machine which takes your life blood out of your body, cleans it up and then puts it back.

"You have to sit there for five hours, three times a week. My wife had to train as my care nurse so that I could have dialysis at home. She knew how much it meant to me."

Deteriorating fast

All the time, his condition was deteriorating fast - only a transplant could reverse that. But Gordon feared that by the time an organ became available, he might not be strong enough to endure the operation.

"Some patients had their transplants in three months. One was only on the list for two weeks. Can you imagine how depressing it was?"

Eventually, after the false alarms, the kidney of a 40-year-old woman became available and the operation went ahead.

The surgery was a complete success, and Gordon has been in greatly improved health ever since, although the drugs he has been taking to prevent his body rejecting the donor organ have produced unpleasant side-effects.

He said: "I've had at least 40 operations to remove skin cancer lumps - I've stopped counting now.

"But since my life was saved, I've fathered another child, and I've seen another two grandchildren born. That means a lot to me.

"I owe so much to that 40-year-old lady, and to her family who carried out her wishes."

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14 Feb 01 | Health
Doctors call for new donor rules
31 Jan 01 | Health
Organ scandal threatens research
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