A life-changing gift
“I am not scared anymore and I look at life in a completely different way,” said a nurse from Worthing Hospital exactly one year on from a successful kidney transplant.
Marie Bugden, 34 from Worthing, said she was angry and anxious, and worried about potentially losing her job and home before the operation.
“I was constantly exhausted and it was a terrifying time,” she said on the first anniversary of the operation, speaking with the woman who gave her a new kidney.
Sue Gathergood, a friend of Marie’s family, first contemplated organ donation after witnessing the anguish which struck the family when husband Jamie was rejected as an organ match.
“It was so devastating for everyone,” said the 64-year-old retired teacher from Worthing.
“I already have a friend who leads a normal and active life with one kidney so I started to explore the possibility of becoming an organ donor,” said Sue.
It was amazing and it lifted this huge fear that had been dominating me, Jamie and the whole family
Marie added: “Sue looked into it without letting anyone else know. She is such an incredible person and just wanted to see if she could help.”
Initial tests suggested they were well matched and in September 2014 following months of assessments it was confirmed they were compatible.
“I just cried,” said Marie. “It was amazing and it lifted this huge fear that had been dominating me, Jamie and the whole family.”
Marie’s problems with her kidneys started during her childhood when she suffered from regular urinary tract infections.
At 17 she was rushed to A&E suffering from a severe kidney infection and soon after it was discovered one of her kidneys was failing.
At 21, the organ was removed but then the other also began to deteriorate and life became a constant challenge, battling with exhaustion, while working as a healthcare assistant and training to become a nurse.
In 2007 she married Jamie, but when she became pregnant with their only daughter Tallulah her kidney function fell from 34% to just 21%.
Last year Marie was due to begin dialysis, which would see her connected to a machine three times a week for four hours at a time to artificially carry out the function of the failing kidney and clean her blood.
“All I could think about was my daughter, my husband and my job, always worrying how I would cope,” said Marie.
“But now my life has changed completely. I am not scared anymore and I look at life in a completely different way.”
Since the operation Marie is happy and healthy and working in a surgical pre-assessment clinic for Western Sussex Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
She is no longer exhausted all the time and loves the new lease of life the transplant has given her to enjoy family time with her husband and five-year-old daughter.
Marie thanked Sue for her phenomenal generosity, and praised consultant Dr Lui Forni and all the clinical staff who have helped her so much over the years.
Nationwide, three people die every day waiting for a transplant but Marie was lucky to know someone like Sue.
The family friend said: “I think it is human instinct to try and help and it is just so heart-warming to see how Marie and her whole family are now thriving.
“I have experienced no adverse effects whatsoever and I would encourage anyone to think about becoming an organ donor – it is such a precious gift to be able to give.”
Dr Ryck Albertyn, clinical lead for organ donations at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Sue’s courage is genuinely awe-inspiring. Undertaking a live organ donation to help Marie is a wonderfully altruistic act.
“In hospital, families of patients who are dying who consent to organ donation are also very brave and selfless, putting the good of other people above their personal pain and anguish at an extremely traumatic time.
“Organ donation may play a part in anyone’s life at any point and it is always better if we have talked about it with our loved ones, or even better still, have signed up to the organ donor register.”
For more information about organ donation visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk.