Page last updated at 07:55 GMT, Wednesday, 24 June 2009 08:55 UK

'Why I gave away my kidney'

Paul van den Bosch
Paul hopes more people will consider becoming a living donor

Paul van den Bosch is a 54-year-old GP based in Surrey. He became a "living donor" in April 2008, giving one of his kidneys to someone he had never met. Here he describes how he made the decision, and shares his thoughts a year on.

"For a long time I'd thought about donation as something I would be prepared to do - but in a totally theoretical way.

"Being a doctor myself meant I was perhaps able to see this issue from a rather different perspective to others. For one, I'd worked in kidney units - so I'd seen what people go through. But also I knew the operation itself - while of course not risk free - was not a major ordeal."

When regulations changed making it possible for those who were not related, either by blood or marriage, to become a living donor, Paul began to think about donation as a realistic possibility.

"But what really made me start to think about it in detail was seeing a patient of mine who had been on dialysis and then had a transplant - how it had transformed his life. I realised that was something I could help someone else to achieve.

There aren't all that many things you can do as an individual which have such an impact

"My children were grown-up, I was fit and well - it seemed the right time. We didn't tell my kids until we were someway down the line, but there were no real misgivings.

"I was able to explain that the risks were really not great - and yes, they were supportive."

From bed to biking

The surgery itself was very straightforward, Paul says.

"I was in hospital three days, back at work two weeks and a day later. Four months later I went on a cycling holiday with my family - I felt A1.

"I did receive a card from the recipient to say thanks very much, but it never went any further. I am just very glad it was successful.

If it hadn't been, he said, "obviously I would have been disappointed, but I don't feel it's a decision I will ever regret - even if I have my own kidney problems later in life.

"That was the big question they asked in the assessment checks - how would I feel later on if I needed that kidney - but I truly believe that if it comes to that I will look back and think I made the right decision at the time."

Paul hopes more people will consider becoming a living donor.

"There aren't all that many things you can do as an individual which have such an impact.

"When you weigh the benefits against the disadvantages it's pretty clear what comes out on top. It took just two weeks out of my life and transformed someone else's.

"And when it comes to the risks - well you're as likely to go under a bus tomorrow."

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