Sunderland woman celebrates 50th anniversary of kidney transplant as three members of family donate organs to relatives

An 82-year-old woman is celebrating her 50th anniversary of a kidney transplant donated from her brother following a kidney condition which has been passed down two generations.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 7:00 am
(LEFT) Catherine (top left), Gerald (top right), Gavin (Middle left), Rita (Middle right), Vince (bottom left), Jennifer (bottom right). (RIGHT) Rita (left), Gavin, Gerald, Catherine (right).

Catherine Johnson, 82, from Sunderland is celebrating her 50th anniversary of a kidney transplant on Tuesday, March 23 which makes her one of the longest surviving kidney transplant patients across the UK.

The 82-year-old received a transplant from her brother Gerald Jones following kidney failure in 1971 and although there was no history of a kidney condition within the family before Catherine’s transplant, both her sons Gavin and Vince along with Vince’s son needed transplants years later.

The condition, called nephritis, has been passed down two generations, and Catherine’s sons and grandson have all had kidney transplants.

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Catherine Johnson is celebrating her 50th kidney transplant anniversary.

Catherine, who was one of nine, was given a kidney from her brother Gerald at the Newcastle RVI following tests of all her siblings to ‘find the perfect match’.

Margaret, now the eldest sibling said: “Doctors asked for family to come forward, so we all got tested and Gerald was the perfect match.

"He was absolutely terrified because out of all of us, he was the one who hated hospitals and we all just laughed at the time.

"It was very new back then and he’s been absolutely fine ever since – but I don’t think any of us expected it to last 50 years!”

Some family member's were kidney 'matches'.

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Years later, Catherine’s son Gavin needed a transplant and this was donated by his aunt Rita when Gavin was 26-years-old before he had a second transplant with his wife as donor 23 years later.

Three years after Gavin’s first transplant, his brother Vince needed a transplant and his kidney was donated by his aunt Jennifer.

The kidney condition was then passed down to Vince’s son Lewis who received a kidney from a donor after their death at 23-years-old. It’s expected Vince’s second son Owen will also need a kidney transplant in his lifetime.

Catherine Johnson is one of longest surviving kidney transplant patient in the UK.

Catherine’s son Gavin said: “It’s a huge achievement for mam, and she’s so excited, she’s had the same transplant for 50 years and it’s still going strong.

"I’ve been on dialysis in between transplants and it’s horrible so if my kidney lasts 50 years like mam’s then I’d be over the moon!”

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Catherine and her son Vince, who both had kidney transplants.