Neil Woolley has become the 100th adult patient to receive a kidney transplant at NBT in 2022/23 after his partner of eight years, Kate Warburton, was found to be a match for donation.
Neil, 37, and Kate, 33, from Knowle have shared their experience to raise awareness for World Kidney Day on Thursday 9 March.
The important milestone for the renal transplant team marks the most transplants that they have carried out since the pandemic.
Neil was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease at age 17 after experiencing a blood clot in his leg following a night out with friends. He had been living with the disease since his diagnosis until two years ago when it was found that his kidney function had declined further and he would need a kidney transplant.
Speaking about living with chronic kidney disease, Neil said: “It’s been tough, you wake up feeling really tired and like you’re twice your age.”
The couple had not expected to be a match for donation and had anticipated using the paired or pooled donation scheme, which is a national register used to find compatible transplants with other donor-recipient pairs, to find a donor.
Thorough testing, however, found that Kate’s kidney was suitable to be donated to Neil and at the end of January, they each underwent a three-hour operation to transplant Kate’s kidney to Neil.
Since the operation, they’ve both been recovering well, with Neil describing how he’s found a new lease of life: “The fact that I can wake up in the morning feeling fresh and go to the shops is amazing. I just feel so much more clear-headed – I feel like I can go for a run.”
Kate said: “It’s just wonderful to see that it’s worked and that the kidney has done what it’s supposed to do.”
Dr Jack Galliford, lead nephrologist for transplant medicine at North Bristol NHS Trust, said: "Pre-dialysis living donor kidney transplants, like Kate and Neil’s case, are considered the gold standard treatment for end-stage kidney failure.
“The biggest challenge is getting the message out there that you can come forward as a living donor and that your wellbeing can be the same as before you had the operation.
“Couples being a match for donation is also more common than you might think, so it’s possible to donate to a loved one and live life together in a better way.”
On reaching 100 adult kidney transplants in a year at Southmead Hospital, Dr Galliford said: “This is a huge milestone for us and shows that we are growing as a department again after the pandemic.”
Kate and Neil thanked all the “amazing staff” who took care of them before and after their operation and encourage others to think about becoming a donor.
The couple, who are continuing their recovery at home, are looking forward to being more active again soon and even plan to take on a triathlon in the near future.