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Thursday 21 June 2018
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Janet Middleton, World Kidney Day 2018
Janet Middleton, who received her kidney transplant in 1989

Mum celebrates 29th year since kidney transplant

A mother-of-one celebrating 29 years since she had a transplant says she wishes the donor’s family knew how well she has looked after the donated kidney.

 

It was 1986 when Janet Middleton started noticing something wasn’t right; she was suffering with dizzy spells and said she generally felt unwell.

 

“I was a single parent at the time so just put it down to my busy lifestyle,” she said. “I made a few visits to my doctor but my symptoms were so vague the cause wasn’t diagnosed straight away.”

 

Janet, who is now 64, was eventually referred to Withington Hospital where she was diagnosed with pyelonephritis, or kidney failure. She was put on medication and a strict, low potassium diet.

 

After moving to Eccles, in Salford, to be near family, she was referred to Salford Royal where specialist doctors and nurses asked if she had considered going on the organ transplant waiting list.

 

Janet said: “I was in denial for so long, I was listening to the doctors but I wasn’t taking everything on board and I wasn’t reacting like someone who was very, very poorly.

 

“I was accepted on to the transplant list in the September and went on dialysis for a couple of months. Finally, on December 27 1989, I was going in for my transplant operation.

 

“I was a bit frightened about the operation but I was pleased that at last I was not going to be on dialysis anymore and I was going to feel better again.

 

“The operation went really well and everyone was amazed at how well the kidney had took over night.”

 

Although it is not unheard of for a donated kidney to last up to 30 years, the average lifespan for a donated kidney is between 10-15 years.

 

Janet Hegarty, Consultant in kidney medicine at Salford Royal, said: “At Salford Royal we run five kidney care centres across half of Greater Manchester to give people with kidney disease the best care, closer to home.

 

“As a service we are very aware that it is the kindness of friends, families and strangers donating kidneys that give our patients the chance of life off machines. Janet’s story shows what an enormous difference those everyday heroes and their families can make when they decide to donate.”

 

As she recovered from the transplant operation, Janet said she began feeling a lot better and has had no problems with the donated kidney ever since.

 

“When I look back at everything that I went through, I think it hits me more now than it did at the time,” she added. “I was just so busy looking after a young child, going out to work and trying to keep life as normal as possible for my daughter, Sarah.

 

“I will always need regular check-ups but I will continue looking after myself the best I can and will always be thankful for the NHS.

 

“I know I am past my sell by date with the donated kidney and although I don’t know anything about the person who donated it, I would love for their family to know how well I have looked after it and how after all this time, I am still extremely grateful to them.”

 

Kidney care advice:

  • Know your blood pressure if you are over 40 and make sure to get an annual check
  • Watch out for ‘middle-aged spread’ and the risk of developing diabetes
  • If you have a relative affected by kidney disease – get your kidney function checked out
  • Keep your salt intake in check remembering 3/4s of your salt is hidden in prepared food
  • Get your ‘5 a-day’ and remember – exercise really still is the only ‘magic bullet’ for health