A transplant patient has finally received the life-saving gift of a kidney – after 30 YEARS on the waiting list.
David Dawson, 52, said he feels like he has “won the lottery” and is looking forward to enjoying a beer following the successful organ transplant earlier this month.
The former jeweller had resigned himself to a lifetime of dialysis treatment after being stuck on the waiting list since a failed transplant in 1984, when he was 22.
And he thought he had been victim of a prank when he received a 4am phone call on June 30 to say a suitable donor had been found.
Within 12 hours he was on the operating table at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth (QE)Hospital to receive the vital gift of life he had been waiting over 10,000 days for.
David was released from hospital on July 10 putting to an end three decades of having to endure dialysis treatment three times week.
His wait is one of the longest ever for an organ on the NHS – and is 10 times that of the average three year waiting time in the UK.
Yesterday (Wed) David, from Milton, in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs., said he is now looking forward to enjoying the simple things in life – such as a coffee, bananas and a pint of lager.
He added: “I’d accepted I would be on dialysis for the rest of my life.
“Having the transplant was absolutely brilliant. I’m on a high. I feel like I have won the lottery.
“Having this operation has given me a new lease of life. I will forever be indebted to the woman who gave me this second chance.
“I haven’t been on many holidays because of the dialysis but I am planning to go away more.
“The problem will be finding things to do with myself now.
“I’ll be able to go and have a pint down the pub now, which I haven’t been able to do for so long.
“But, believe it or not, I’m really looking forward to having a banana and one of the first things I intend to do is have a Costa Coffee because I’ve never had one – they weren’t about 30 years ago.”
David’s medical condition came to light when he was 16 and he later underwent a transplant at North Staffordshire Royal Infirmary in 1984.
But his body rejected the kidney after nine months and he has faced an agonising wait for a second chance ever since.
He said: “I was 16 when I noticed blood in my urine and after lots of tests doctors found an inflammation in my kidneys.
“The doctors told me I would eventually need dialysis but I didn’t really take it in.
“At that age you think you’re indestructible.
“I was 18 when I started having haemodialysis because both my kidneys stopped working.
“A few years later I had a kidney transplant but six months after, my body started rejecting it so the doctors decided they would need to remove it.
“It was so disappointing to be back where I was.
“I went back to having dialysis three times a week for four hours each time.
“When my first transplant failed, it boosted my antibodies to 100 per cent.
“Because of this, it made it hard for me to get a match for another transplant.
“I thought a match would be found at some stage but as time went on, I started to give up.
“At one point I did think about coming off the waiting list because I thought it just wasn’t going to happen.
“Being on dialysis takes a lot out of you and some people refuse to have it because they have just had enough.
“I had really low energy levels and I often felt worse after having dialysis.
“I used to go swimming a lot when I was younger but I just didn’t have the energy to carry on with it.”
His wait ended when transplant co-ordinator Sheryl Parson called him in the early hours to give him the good news they had found a suitable kidney from a 62-year-old woman.
David, who is not married and has no children, said: “I just wondered who the hell would be calling me so early.
“But the phone went three or four times and I eventually decided to go downstairs and answer it.
“Sheryl told me they had a possible match and that I needed to get to Birmingham as quickly as I could.
“My nephew Robert drove me down and it was only when I was at the hospital that it dawned on me what was happening.
“I became very emotional but I was really excited at the same time.
“Tissue typing and cross-matching had to be done at that stage and I had to go on dialysis for four hours when I arrived.
“Just before I came off that the co-ordinator came and said it was a match and I just broke down and cried.
“The operation took about four hours and I was in hospital for about 10 days and now I feel on top of the world.”
In 2012 David, who worked at the prestigious Pidducks jewellers in Southport, Merseyside, was the last outpatient to be treated at the old University Hospital of North Staffordshire.
He was chosen to help staff switch off the lights as he had been waiting so long for a transplant.
Brother Philip Dawson, 54, said: “He has waited so long for this, we are so happy for him.
“My wife and I had flown out to Cape Verde the day before David received the phone call from the hospital.
“My son Robert and daughter Emma ran round between Birmingham and work to make sure everything ran smoothly for their uncle.
“They were a credit to us whilst we were away.
“I spoke to David after the surgery to ask him how he felt, and he just said ‘fantastic’.
“He’s one of the longest patients to have been on haemodialysis, after going for dialysis every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for five hours at a time.”
Nephew Robert Dawson, 25, added: “Being on dialysis for so long takes its toll on anybody.
“My uncle was more prone to illnesses so he spent a few months in hospital last year which was hard for us.
“It’s still early days but I know this operation is going to make a massive difference to his life.”
There are currently 5,379 people waiting for a kidney transplant in the UK, according to NHS figures.
Last week, NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) reported that the number of donors – people who’ve donated organs after death – has fallen for the first time in 11 years.
Last year the number of transplants dropped by five per cent, meaning 224 fewer people received transplants.
The average time a person spends on the waiting list for a kidney transplant is about three years. People with rarer blood groups or tissue types tend to wait longer.
Consultant renal surgeon Clare Pattenden, who performed the transplant at Birmingham’s QE Hospital, said: “About a third of patients waiting for a donor kidney are considered significantly sensitised.
“This means they have high antibody levels that react to foreign tissue such as a transplanted organ.
“If you have high antibody levels it is harder to match that patient to a donor kidney.
“People develop antibodies as a response to exposure to foreign tissue, such as a previous transplant, a blood transfusion, significant infection or pregnancy.
“Relatively few highly sensitised patients receive a transplant and they wait significantly longer than unsensitised patients for a compatible donor.
“The scoring system for sensitisation is expressed as a percentage and David was 97 per cent sensitised.
“That means he had antibodies to approximately 97 per cent of the population.
“Understandably that made it difficult to find a compatible kidney.
“Obviously David being offered a kidney for the first time in nearly 30 years was remarkable considering this and transplanting him gave us all great joy.
“For a man to wait so long and remain in such good health is a clear demonstration of his excellent ongoing renal care from the Stoke Nephrology team.
“There are hundreds of highly sensitised patients in this country waiting in similar states, many of whom will never receive a transplant and either become too unfit or die on the waiting list.
“The message is simple – more patients will have the opportunity to receive a life-changing transplant if more people join the organ donation register.”