Generous Donors Share Reasons for Giving Kidneys to Strangers

Generous Donors Share Reasons for Giving Kidneys to Strangers
15.01.2024

Two people, both in their sixties, have spoken of their experiences donating a kidney to a stranger.

They are among the almost 1,000 non-directed altruistic kidney donors in the UK – the term for someone who has donated an organ to someone they have never met.

There are currently 75 people in Surrey and 104 in Sussex on the waiting list for a kidney transplant.

Paul Vandenbosch, a GP in Woking, donated a kidney in 2008 after a patient told him that receiving a transplant was like “winning the lottery”.

The patient then added: “No, better than that, because no amount of money could have made me feel well again.”

Mr Vandenbosch, who is now 69, told BBC Radio Sussex: “My first job as a junior doctor in hospital in the 70s was on a renal ward and while dialysis was obviously life saving it was also very clear that it was far from an ideal treatment.”

Sarah Lovegrove, aged 65 and from Woking, donated her kidney in 2022, inspired by a man she knew who died waiting for a heart transplant, leaving behind a wife and two young children.

“I’ve known people who have received a kidney and I’ve seen what an amazing impact it has on their life – it basically gives them their life back,” she said.

Asked if he was concerned about the impact on his own health, Mr Vandenbosch said the procedure was not high risk.

“Looking back on it, it was amazingly easily,” he said, adding that he was “healthier than most people” in their late sixties and “still cycling regularly, still working”.

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Ms Lovegrove said she was not worried about the operation as the medical staff were “very, very careful” and “very kind, helpful and encouraging”.

“They are not going to take your kidney away if they feel that you’re going to suffer for it,” she said.

Asked if he had met the person who received his kidney, Mr Vandenbosch said: “I don’t think I’m very keen to meet them particularly and I think quite a lot of recipients aren’t necessarily keen to meet their donors.”

However, he added that there were “some very nice records of people who’ve met their donors and formed friendships with them”.

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