By By Carole
One weekend my youngest son Gary, who was 15 at the time, was unwell. He'd had a headache all weekend and the pain relieving medication I'd given him wasn't helping at all. On the Sunday afternoon just as I was leaving for work, he told me that his 'wee' was a red colour. I asked him to collect a sample and show it to his dad the next time he went to the toilet.
A few hours later I received a phone call from my husband to say he had taken Gary to see a doctor who was admitting him to hospital straight away. He was diagnosed as having Glomerulonephritis (which is a kidney disease) and spent about 10 days in hospital.
Several months later the problem occurred again-and again I was at work! This time the doctor wanted us to take Gary to a hospital in Melbourne to see a kidney specialist. Gary went on to have a biopsy and was diagnosed with I.G.A. Nephropathy. This is a disease in which the body's immune system recognises the kidneys as foreign bodies and over a period of time destroys them.
By the time he was 30, Gary's kidney function had deteriorated to the point where he was rushed to hospital early one morning in acute kidney failure and placed on a dialysis machine to remove the built up toxins from his blood. During that period, the doctor broached the possibility that a family member may be able to donate a kidney to Gary.
Although Gary recovered after many days of dialysis, his kidney function tests never returned to normal readings. A year or so after that his specialist suggested to him that he have a Fistula (which is a tube connecting the artery and vein in his arm) inserted in readiness for permanent dialysis-which he was really reluctant to do. Around that time he got a job in Perth and moved over there.
A few months later Gary was started on permanent peritoneal dialysis (this is dialysis through a tube into your abdomen) which he hated as it needed to be done four times a day every day. His new specialist also spoke about the possibility of a family member donating a kidney to him.
I consulted a local kidney specialist regarding the possibility of me being that donor as my husband's blood group wasn't compatible with Gary's.
After many tests of my own general health and that of my kidneys, Gary and I had compatibility tests done and were found to be a match. We flew over to Perth for the last of the tests, which included a third and final compatibility test. I then became the live donor for Gary's kidney transplant. We were amazed at how quickly he became well again. We hadn't seen him like this for years. I recently heard him telling someone 'from the time I realised I was awake after the operation, I was feeling better'.
Gary was really well for two years after his transplant but unfortunately the kidney was to fail due to an unrelated medical condition. He is now back on dialysis while he waits for another kidney transplant.