I write this on the 12th anniversary of my kidney transplant. A day of thanks, a day when my thoughts return to my donor and donor's family and a day when I reflect on how my life has changed since I first heard the words 'you have renal failure'.
I was 37, fit, well and happily married with two young children when I felt as if I was coming down with the flu. Within days I had renal failure. My immune system had mistaken my kidneys for the virus and shut them down.
With the help of my family, I managed haemodialysis at home for five and a half years. During those years, a transplant seemed like the 'light at the end of the tunnel'.
I expected to be excited when I first received the call that a transplant was available but, as my husband and I travelled to the hospital, I was filled with sadness for my donor's family.
Initially, I experienced my fair share of problems and at times struggled with the unexpected physical and emotional challenges I faced. Thankfully things settled and today I'm pleased to say my kidney and I are going well. I have a happy life and my family and I enjoy the freedom that my transplant offers. I am very grateful to my donor and donor's family for the opportunity they have given me.
I feel privileged to be the recipient of such a special gift and was able to express my gratitude in person to some local donor families at the opening of a special garden of remembrance created in my town to recognise the generosity of organ donors and their families. At the end of the ceremony I was given a rose, the Reflection Rose, developed and dedicated to organ and tissue donors and their families. I planted my rose where I could see it every day and today, on the anniversary of my transplant, it is once again covered in buds - a sign of new life and a reminder of the precious new life given to me.