Mark’s Story

My Name is Mark Campbell and I received a kidney from my sister Deborah Campbell.

My story started some time ago, in fact it was back in September 1986 when I was 16 years old. I began feeling unwell, and after doing some tests at my local GP`s practise, it became apparent that I had a kidney problem. I was sent to Belfast City Hospital, to see consultant Dr Nelson. Having taken various medication, they managed to stop the decline of my kidneys.

Slowly but surely over the years my kidneys would decline even further, so much so it became evident that someday I would be in need of a kidney transplant. I managed to struggle on until 2014, when things were becoming more serious. My kidney function was down to around 9%-10%.

I remember all the things I was going through at the time, being sick every day, having that terrible itch all over my body, especially my back and chest. The tiredness and going to bed early, and having no energy at all.

I was on the verge of receiving dialysis, and I was very lucky not to experience this treatment, as my beautiful younger sister Deborah came to my rescue. My kidney function was down even further when my sister began to have tests carried out to see if she would be a suitable donor. All the tests were carried out professionally and it soon became clear that she was a suitable donor. And under the excellent guidance of Dr Nelson, Dr Courtney, and the transplant living donor coordinators Pauline and Elaine, the ball was rolling towards a transplant date.

There was a lot of tests needed done prior to getting a date, various tests for both my sister and myself. After all the tests were complete, we both meet with the Human Tissue Authority, and we signed all the appropriate documents to say who we were etc.

We had our date for transplant, it was scheduled for Monday the 8th September 2014. I remember ringing the hospital on the Sunday morning to verify there was a bed etc. My bag was packed, and I headed off to the hospital.

I went down early on Monday morning to see my sister and to wish her good luck, and to say I shall see you soon. Shortly after midday I was on my way down to theatre after I heard my sister was safe and well and they had retrieved her kidney, and all was good, and she was making a fine recovery. I went into theatre, and it was lights out, all out !.

I remember waking up in recovery some time later, and then being taken up to ward 11 south were my wife and mother were waiting. My poor wee wife was crying when she seen me lol.

And so the recovery began. That night I could feel the difference in myself, compared to what I was like before. And the next morning, I won`t lie, getting in and out of that hospital bed was tough going, but did get easier as each day passed, and the pain relieve helped. ( One wee tip, if you feel you need to cough or sneeze, have a small towel at hand to press against your wound, helps ease the pain).

Everything went well and I was beginning to learn about my new medication that I had to take. I carried out a computer course in hospital to help me adjust to my new way of life. Learning about diet requirements etc. After 10 days I was home and taking my new medication just fine. And started to attend outpatients twice a week at the start, then once a week, and so on. I now attend every 8 weeks. This will increase as time goes on. I have a new consultant now in Dr Chris Hill, as Dr Nelson has retired, and from what I have seen, he will make a very good replacement for him.

My personal advice to anyone going into hospital either as a donor or the receiver, believe me you will be well looked after by the doctors and nursing team. And I can assure you even further, by saying you will be in the best possible hands from start to finish. I cannot say enough how professional everyone was.

And me, I am on top of the world now, feeling so so much better. I started back to work about 4 months later. I have just passed my 1 year anniversary now since my transplant, and all is going very well. I am very thankful, and will be forever grateful to my beautiful younger sister for giving me this me new lease of life. If it was not for my sister, I would most definitely be on dialysis and waiting for a donor. Deborah is also living her life now just as she was prior to becoming a donor, and is 100%.

In closing, a massive big thank you to the Surgeon, Doctors and Nurses, if it was not for your expertise and professionalism we would not be able to carry out these procedures. And also to my “wee sis”, again, if it was not for you I would not have this new life, Love you loads xx.