A KILWINNING woman has spoken of her gratitude for the life-changing donation made possible by her niece.

Claire Hume, 32, put herself forward as a potential donor as soon as she heard aunt Helen Burns, 63, was facing life on dialysis after being diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease (PKD).

Fortunately, Claire was identified as a match, and after months of testing, the transplant went ahead in October 2018, ensuring Helen was free from dialysis, and able to visit her grandchildren in America.

Claire and Helen spoke of the donation ahead of World Kidney Day (March 12 2020).

A kidney from a living donor generally offers the best outcomes for patients living with kidney failure who need a transplant.

There are two routes to living kidney donation – directed donation where a friend, relative or partner donates to a loved one, or non-directed altruistic donation which involves a person donating to a stranger.

When Helen was diagnosed with PKD, she was told she would need to start dialysis and would require a transplant. Immediately, in March 2018, four members of Helen’s family stepped forward to be tested as potential kidney donors, and Claire was identified as the best match.

Claire said: “My aunt Helen didn’t tell us how ill she was at first, but we’re a really close family so as soon as I heard she needed a kidney transplant I put myself forward to be tested.

“My dad died of myeloma in 2014, as a result of complications from the disease he was on dialysis. I didn’t want to watch anyone go through that again. Also, as Helen’s only son lives in America, I wanted her to be able go and visit her grandkids without having to worry about dialysis.

“I thought it would lower my energy levels, but the whole process hasn’t stopped me from doing anything. It’s changed my perspective on life, I actually said thank you to Helen for giving me this opportunity.”

Helen said: “Living donation was suggested as soon as I was diagnosed, and my son, sister and two nieces all put themselves forward for testing. Claire came back as the best match and the transplant was able to go ahead after she went through months of testing. I’m so grateful they all stepped in so quickly, as I never had to go on dialysis.

“I didn’t realise how unwell I was until after I’d had the transplant, I now feel like I’ve got a new lease of life.

“I was worried that Claire would suffer as a result of the donation, but she’s been fit and healthy ever since. I can never repay her for the gift she’s given me.”

To find out more about living donation visit livingdonationscotland.org