A three-year-old girl has received a life-saving kidney transplant from her 64-year-old GRANDDAD – in what is possibly the biggest age gap for a donation in the UK.
Little Penny Powell was expected to survive for just hours after being born 10 weeks premature on December 8 2013.
The tot, who weighed just 1lb 5oz at birth, was born with abnormal kidneys, chronic lung disease and two holes in her heart.
It was anticipated that she would not be able to breathe on her own, but the miracle girl somehow defied the doctors’ predictions – despite having to make 11 visits to the intensive care unit at Birmingham Children’s Hospital since birth.
In June last year her dad-of-one Stuart, 39, was told she would not live beyond the age of five without a new kidney.
The whole family was tested, but only Penny’s brave grandfather John, 64, shared her rare rhesus negative blood type, and the market trader instantly volunteered to go under the knife.
The doting granddad-of-four – who lives with housewife Vicky, 63, in Evesham, Worcs. – had his kidney taken out at Queen Elizabeth Hospital i Birmingham on June 21.
He and Penny, who lives with her parents in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, have now recovered fully from their operations.
Speaking yesterday (Sun), father-of-two John, said: “As soon as we knew that Penny would need a transplant, we all went to get tested.
“She’s had such a difficult life to date, and we would all be willing to do whatever we could to save her.
“It transpired that only I could donate, because I was the only one to share a blood type with her.
“It was a no-brainer, of course.
“When she was first born, I told Stuart that I would do anything to keep her safe and healthy.
“I told him that if it were a question of selling my home and all of my possessions to help her out, I would do it.
“I’ve never questioned my decision. For me, it’s the ultimate gift that a dad can give to his son – to help save his child for him.
“Penny is the most beautiful child. She was dealt a bad hand at birth, but she is the most bubbly and playful child you could ever wish to meet.
“I really wanted her to be well.
“Of course, the procedure was nerve-racking. It was about a year ago that I signed up to it, and I’ve been a nervous wreck, in truth.
“But in the end it was all very straightforward.
“It was literally a case of taking my kidney out at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, then taking it down to Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
“It was all done within a day, and within two days I was back on my feat again and out of the hospital, and Penny was back out within four days
“Since the operation, I’ve felt fine. I’m probably running on about an eight out of ten at the moment, but that’s not a problem.
“For me, it’s not a particularly amazing gesture. Any grandad would do it, if they could.
“The most amazing thing in my view is the fact that I’ve been able to do it so late on in my life.
“That’s a good message to send out to other people – that it’s never too late to help others.
“You have two good working kidneys, one of which you don’t need, so if you can it’s more than a worthwhile thing to do.
“It’s incredible that someone of my age can donate to someone so young, but it just shows you what the doctors can do these days.
“The fact that a part of me is going to live on inside her after I’ve gone is amazing.”
IT service manager Stuart added: “I’m never going to be able to thank my dad enough.
“For as long as I live, there’s nothing that I could ever do to repay him.
“Penny has been my pride and joy from the moment she first stepped into this world.
“She was born by emergency caesarean section, and we were told that her life expectancy was just hours.
“But it kept going up and up, and the doctors – who had to rip up their medical books to find a solution – were able to keep her going.
“It’s been operation after operation.
“As soon as he knew that he could donate, my dad stepped up.
“Because of what he’s done, my one daughter can live an ordinary life.
“Within a day of the operation, she was more energetic, bright and bubbly than I’ve ever seen her.
“He quite literally put the smile on her face.
“She’s going to have to go in to hospital every six months to a pulmonary vein pumped up, but aside from that she will an ordinary life.
“It’s her birthday on December 8, and it looks as though it’s going to be the first one that she’ll be able to celebrate at home.
“We’re already planning what to get her, but I think my dad is owed more than his fair share of gifts too.”