Wife is a million-to-one match for husband’s kidney transplant

Gavin Johnson is being given a kidney by his wife Michele.
Gavin Johnson is being given a kidney by his wife Michele.
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A BRAVE wife has turned out to be the perfect match for her husband in his desperate search for a kidney donor.

Michele and Gavin Johnson were celebrating today after doctors gave them the go-ahead for the life-changing transplant, saving the 50-year-old from an anxious wait for a suitable organ.

Experts estimate the odds of receiving a good match from a spouse are as high as “one in a million”.

“She is absolutely amazing,” said Gavin. “If she hadn’t put herself forward then I could have been waiting years for a donor, with my condition getting worse and worse.

“I don’t know what I would have done without her help.”

As well as dramatically improving his health, the operation will also save the HGV driver from a lifetime of dialysis.

“I had a transplant about 23 years ago, which is progressively failing,” he said. “I have long-term chronic kidney failure and with the prospect of years on dialysis things were not looking good.

“My wife unselfishly didn’t hesitate to offer her kidney to help my quality of life.

“Over the last couple of years, my health has got worse and worse and I’m now at the stage where I need a transplant.”

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But Gavin and Michele, 46, from Washington, faced an agonising wait as medics carried out a series of tests.

“There were about five or six tests over eight months,” he said. “The doctors examine blood, tissue, pretty much everything to make sure that you are a match.

“At every stage, there is a chance that you could be knocked back.

“At first it wasn’t too bad, but as you get further and further along you start to get more and more anxious.

“There is always the fear that it will be snatched away from you at the last minute.

“But we’ve now had confirmation that the operation can go ahead. We’re a perfect match.”

The couple, who have been married for nine years, are now expected to undergo surgery at the Freeman Hospital, in Newcastle, in the coming months.

“It will make such a huge difference,” said dad-of-three Gavin. “At the minute, I’m not able to work and I have to undergo regular dialysis, which can be a challenge in itself.

“Essentially, you have dialysis fluid drained in and out of your stomach. You try to get on with your life, but it is a bit like having a Sunday dinner every few hours.

“You struggle to find the energy to do anything and then it starts all over again.

“The transplant will give both of us much more freedom.

“We can get on with our lives.”

Kidney Research UK estimates the chances of receiving a good match from a non-related living donor in the same household, such as a spouse, can be as high as “one in a million”.

Professor Neil Turner, chairman of the group, said: “For the 7,000 people in the UK who need a kidney transplant, their best chance of finding a match will be from an immediate family member, such as a parent, child or sibling.

“The chances of receiving a good match from a spouse or partner are much, much lower, although it is not unheard of.

“Making transplants better is an important part of our work and more research is needed to help the three million people in this country at risk from kidney disease, by finding a cure.

“Unfortunately, however, we’re currently only able to fund a fifth of all projects aimed at combating the illness.”

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