AS people prepare to mark World Kidney Day tomorrow, March 13, one Redditch woman has told the remarkable story of her recent kidney transplant.
When Lesley Taylor, aged 55, was told in February that a kidney had been found for her, little did she know that the other kidney from the deceased donor was not only going to a fellow Redditch resident, but to someone she knew.
The Oakenshaw resident had run a milk round with partner Jamie King, serving Astwood Bank, Feckenham and Winyates, until her failing health forced her to give it up.
She had been on the waiting list for a new kidney for over two years, and her kidney function was down to just six per cent, when she received a call late in the evening on February 18 from the Queen Elizabeth (QE) Hospital in Birmingham telling her that a kidney which was a perfect match had been found. Her partner had been due to donate but it was found that her body would have rejected his kidney.
Following the successful operation, as she recovered in hospital, a nurse told her that the other kidney from the donor had gone to a fellow Redditch resident, and he was in the QE too.
Ms Taylor said: "This gentleman was in a bed fairly near me in the hospital so I went to see him to tell him that I too was from Redditch and that I had received the partner to his kidney. When I saw him I was stunned to see he was one of my old customers, John Whyley, from my milk round. It was unbelievable."
During her stay in hospital, Ms Taylor frequently went to visit Mr Whyley, aged 73, and his wife Joan, and the two have stayed in touch.
She said: "It was a total shock. Through the sad loss of someone's life, two people from the same town, and who knew each other, have had their chance of life given back to them.
"I wasn't thrilled when I received the call to tell me they had found a kidney, I was so sad because of the circumstances. Someone had died in order for this to happen and that stopped me from being overjoyed when I got the call, although I will be eternally grateful to the donor, and their family for what they have done for John and I."
Mr Whyley only knew there was something wrong with his kidneys when he was 55. Doctors discovered that one of them had hardly developed, and the second was much smaller than it should be. The larger one had kept him alive, but he began to suffer chronic kidney failure.
His daughter was going to donate a kidney, but his consultant recommended he go on the cadaveric transplant waiting list. A cadaveric transplant is when the organ or tissue has come from a dead person.
Just two weeks after he went on the list, on the same evening Ms Taylor received her call, Mrs Whyley answered the phone to be told there was a kidney for her husband.
Mr Whyley said: "After getting to the hospital, the consultant told me there would be a bit of a wait as a lady was having her new kidney first. I told him that was fine by me. I didn't realise that was actually Lesley having her op.
"I don't think you could ever calculate the odds of this happening. Two people who not only live in the same small town, but also know each other, end up on the same day, in the same hospital, receiving a life-saving kidney from the same donor. It's like a miracle to me."
As people mark National Kidney Day tomorrow, Ms Taylor wants people to consider becoming a donor.
She said: "I want everyone to consider getting a donor card and to realise just what an unbelievable difference it can make to people's lives - from saving them, to enhancing them beyond belief.
"You are offering the gift of live, or life improvement, to so many people after you have gone."
Ms Taylor is happy to speak to anyone who would like to know more, or find out about registering. She can be contacted on 07821 424336.