Personal stories
Here are the transcripts of interviews with people who have received kidney transplants from family members, in which they tell their stories and express gratitude for the gift of life.

Felicity’s story
1 - Unnamed

Q: What type of kidney disease were you diagnosed with and when?
Felicity:  I was born with one kidney, which then had issues with reflux and failed by age seven.

Q: How old were you when your mother donated her kidney to you?
Felicity:  I was 27. My Mum started getting tested in 2010 after my first transplant failed. Mum lived in a different state to me by this time and Royal Melbourne Hospital and Townsville Hospital worked together testing us.

I was then flown to Melbourne to undergo the transplant. The surgery at the Royal Melbourne Hospital was a success but unfortunately a few hours after the surgery my urine production stopped. After tests I was sent back to theatre to remove a clot and they were once again happy with the surgery. The next day things had not improved and I was sent back to theatre where the kidney was removed.

I may not have ended up with a new kidney or a life without dialysis again. I will never be able to express how much it means to me what Mum did. She always shrugs it off and tells me she would have never thought twice about it as I’m her child, but I will still never be able to repay her selfless act of love.

Q: How are you feeling now?
Felicity:  I feel good, even though I don’t have the transplant. My love for her is no less.

Q: What would you like to say to your Mum to thank her? 
Felicity:  That even though I didn’t leave hospital with her kidney, I will never forget what she had done for me and that my appreciation will never be able to be put into words. That I will celebrate the gift she gave me every year like I do my first transplant, and like I will my next one. 

I have grown up with kidney disease, this is all I have ever known, and it has made me the stubborn, motivated person I am. I would like to acknowledge it was not easy on my siblings, parents and other family members.

Larissa and Antony’s story
2 - Unnamed

Q: What type of kidney disease were you diagnosed with and when?
Antony:  Both of us have Alport Syndrome, a genetic disease that has been passed onto us by our parents Robin and Roger, although they do not have the disease themselves.

I was diagnosed at the age of five, just after starting school. I was having problems with my hearing and had many ear infections, so it was decided that grommets should be put in my ears.

During the day of the insertion, the doctors did a routine urine test and found blood in my urine, so it was suggested that I should see a GP to have it investigated further. The GP referred us to a paediatrician and an ENT specialist, as my hearing wasn't getting better. I was then referred onto another paediatrician at Flinders Medical Centre.

Then 12 months after these investigations started, I had a biopsy and was finally diagnosed with Alport Syndrome. Not much was known about the disease at the time, hence why it took the medical professionals so long to diagnose. My daughter Kesia, who is 10, also has Alport Syndrome now and takes blood pressure medication.

Larissa:  While I was living in the UK when I was 23 years old, I had a urine test when I had the flu and protein was detected in my urine. I suspected that I might have what my brother had. I was referred to my brother's renal specialist when I returned to Adelaide a few months later.

At 25, following a biopsy, I was diagnosed with Alport Syndrome as well. When females have the disease, they are traditionally only supposed to be carriers; however, my kidneys were deteriorating. I was put on blood pressure and cholesterol medication to slow down the process of deterioration.

Q: How old were you when your mother donated her kidney to you?
Antony:  I was 17 years old when I received a kidney donation from our mother on 27 November 1992. Our father was also compatible but with Dad being the major breadwinner at the time and with transplant surgery back then not being keyhole for the donor as it is now, the recovery time was much longer.

From this we decided that Mum would be in the position to donate. I think she was also adamant that she be the one anyway, like most mums would! I was on dialysis for three months prior to the transplant to get well enough for surgery.

Larissa:  I was 38 when I received a kidney donation from an amazingly generous family friend Megan on 9 March 2011. Obviously Mum was not in a position to donate a second time! Megan was the fourth person that was tested.

My father went through testing and we were very hopeful that he'd be able to donate (what a story, both parents donating to both children!). However, due to some slight complications following his triple bypass operation in February 2010, it was decided by the transplant medical doctors that it was too risky for him. Luckily, I did not have any dialysis before my transplant, although I was very close to it.

Q: How are you feeling now?
Antony:  I have competed in two national and two World Transplant Games over the years and I am feeling healthy, fit and have never looked back!

Larissa:  I have a lot more energy and looking forward to the future ahead.

Q: What would you like to say to your Mum to thank her?
Antony:  No words can express my gratitude. I have enjoyed good kidney function and great overall health in the almost 20 years since the transplant. Your gift has enabled me to live a normal life and give you your beautiful granddaughter.

Beccky’s story
3 - Unnamed

Q: How old were you when your mother donated her kidney to you?
Beccky:  I was 17 years of age when Mum donated her kidney to me.

Q: How did you feel after donation? Did you feel even closer to your mother through this new bond?
Beccky:  After the kidney transplant I felt the best I had ever felt in my life. Of course I was in pain right after but with my Mum visiting me in the hospital and seeing how I was going, there was now that special bond between us because I had a part of my mother inside of me. I felt even closer than I thought I would.

After the transplant I started eating foods she would eat, ones that I had never wanted before the transplant. I even had the fitness bug in me because my Mum had to lose a lot of weight before the transplant. I started walking and jogging up the halls of the hospital because I wanted to get fit.

When I was 17 I didn’t want to really hang around my Mum because it wasn’t 'cool' to be seen with your mum at that age, but after the transplant and living with my Mum close by me for three months at Ronald McDonald House, I gained what I think is a closer bond than any normal mother-daughter relationship.

Q: How are you feeling now?
Beccky:  I feel the best I have ever felt in my whole 19 years of life. I’m happy with how I look, I’m happy with my health, I’m happy with my friends who support me every time I need them. I am full of energy and sometimes have more energy than many people around my age.

The transplant has made me feel good enough to wake up early and not be tired by six pm! I am looking forward to my future because I am living life to the fullest and taking every opportunity that I can get! 

Q: What would you like to say to your Mum to thank her?
Beckky:  There are too many words that I could say to thank my Mum. She saved my life... how can you thank someone for that? I am just so lucky and grateful to have such an amazing mother who loves me and is always there for me. I have never seen someone my age with the same strong relationship that I have with my mother.

Unlike many other girls at 19, I like shopping with my Mum rather than my friends because I cherish those moments I have with my mother every day.

Both of my parents have been there when I needed it, to make sure I’m healthy and happy. They are two of the best parents I could ask for. I would say that I am one of the luckiest 19-year-old girls in the world.

Mum knows how thankful I am for her kidney and she’s just so happy to see me so happy and healthy with life; if she could replay the day of the transplant she would because it was one of the most happiest days of her life. I see the little spark in her eye that tells me she made the right decision.

I am so thankful for such a small gift that has given me the biggest reward in my life. I love her sooooo much it’s unexplainable! 

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