A 23-year-old farmer who recently underwent a kidney transplant has added his voice to the call to encourage members of the farming community to sign up to the NHS Organ Donation Register.
Matthew Denby, from Lincolnshire, was lucky enough to find a suitable match in his uncle, but he was given a first-hand insight into how difficult the process can be if a live match can’t be found.
“I had kidney failure in 2007,” he explains.
“It was caused by E.coli that I probably caught from the cattle on our family farm. I had been ill for around three weeks and showing no signs of getting better, when they realised that my kidneys had stopped working.”
After being on dialysis for six weeks, his kidneys started up again, but their function began to worsen 10 years later.
“Doctors knew they wouldn’t recover this time and that a transplant or dialysis would be necessary soon,” Matthew explains.
Around 20 people came forward offering to be a donor following a charity ball Matthew organised during his tenure as county chairman of Lincolnshire Young Farmers.
Luckily, the first two people to be tested, his father and uncle, were both matches and the decision was made to proceed with one of his uncle’s kidneys.
“The biggest eye-opener for me was talking to the other people on my ward at the hospital,” he says.
“I was the only one with a living donor. The other three had all been waiting for a phone call to say a kidney had become available for as much as 18 months.
“I was lucky. I’m a common blood type and my uncle was a match, but lots of people aren’t so lucky.
“The kidneys they were given will have made a huge difference to their lives and I saw first-hand how happy they were.
“Anything we can do to reduce that time for people who can’t find a live donor will make a huge difference.”
Last year, 411 people died on the transplant waiting list.
Following conversations with your family, if you or a loved one would like to join the NHS Organ Donor Register, simply visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk