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Antrim man to donate kidney to stranger if it helps save wife's life

By Lisa Smyth

Published 13/06/2016

Libby and James Nash
Libby and James Nash
Libby and James Nash on their wedding day

A Co Antrim man has offered to donate his kidney to a complete stranger to save his wife's life.

James Nash has added his name to the national transplant pool in the hope that a suitable kidney donor match can be found quickly for his wife of eight years, Libby.

"I didn't have a second thought about doing it," said the 35-year-old from Randalstown, Co Antrim.

"I've been tested to donate one of my kidneys directly to Libby but we already know it can't happen because of our blood types.

"But if there's a match out there for Libby and a kidney is donated to her, then I will ultimately do the same for someone else.

"It's so hard to see your loved one suffering so much.

"You feel like you can't do anything, so if it means that will save Libby's life then I will donate my kidney."

Libby (32) has cystic fibrosis and has endured a lifetime of hospital appointments, medication, physiotherapy and surgery just to stay alive.

Four years ago she was fighting for her life in the intensive care unit at the City Hospital in Belfast and it seemed likely the disease would kill her.

She had been on the waiting list for a double lung transplant for six years when her condition took a dangerous turn for the worse.

She woke on the morning of June 11, 2012, and James knew immediately that she wasn't well so the pair got into their car to drive to hospital. While on the way, Libby stopped breathing.

At the hospital, a machine called a Novalung ventilator was used for the first time in Northern Ireland to keep her alive.

Libby and her family continued to pray for a miracle but it took several weeks before the call finally came through that a lung donor had been found.

The transplant operation was a success and Libby was once again well enough to enjoy normal activities. The couple were even finally able to enjoy their dream honeymoon in Florida - five years after their wedding.

And Libby is currently fulfilling another dream, studying beauty, which was not possible before her transplant. However, her health began to deteriorate again in March and last week doctors at the Freeman Hospital, where she had her lung transplant, told her she now needs a kidney transplant.

"They did warn me that I may need a kidney transplant somewhere down the line, so it wasn't a complete shock," she said, "although it would be nice to have a wee steady run of good health for a change. They're really keen that I don't go on dialysis which is why we're looking at a live donor. Everything is a bit more complicated because of my lungs but hopefully I will be able to have the surgery in the next few months."

James said: "When Libby was so ill before, I couldn't bring myself to go home as it just made me think what it would be like if she didn't make it. I just don't want to imagine that happening and that's why I'm willing to do whatever it takes to keep her with me."

Every year, 15 people in Northern Ireland die while awaiting a transplant. Only 35% of the population is on the Organ Donor Register, yet 78% of people say they would accept an organ if they needed one.

  • To sign the Organ Donor Register, log on to, or telephone the NHS Donor Line on 0300 123 23 23

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