Live donor Lesley issues appeal for others to 'share their spare'
A Northern Ireland woman is urging people to "share their spare" and donate an organ as World Kidney Day 2019 is marked.
Lesley Bratty from Newtownards, Co Down, donated her kidney as a living donor in an operation carried out at Belfast City Hospital last year.
The 37-year-old is speaking out about her own experience to encourage others to be come living donors.
She said too many people are needlessly losing their lives as they wait for a transplant.
"There are currently nearly 5,000 people waiting for a kidney in the UK, and around 250 people die each year in need of one," she said.
"With so much news about the new opt-out system around deceased donation, I'm using the opportunity of World Kidney Day to remind people that they do not have to be deceased to donate, they can potentially help someone now.
"I am a great believer in the notion that we are here to try to make a positive impact on the world, no matter how small, and this was something I could do to make the world a better place."
Lesley joked that it got her out of the housework for a few weeks.
Bob Wiggins from UK charity Give A Kidney said the benefits of living kidney donors extends beyond those who are the recipients.
"Many people still don't know that any healthy adult can volunteer as a living donor and more than 700 people in the UK have now donated one of their healthy kidneys to a stranger, changing hundreds of lives for the better," he said.
He added that when one person offers to donate a kidney, it has the positive impact of encouraging others to also become live donors.
He explained: "Someone stepping forward to donate in this way can potentially trigger up to three transplants, so kidneys from donors like Lesley are incredibly valuable.
"Together this group of donors has already saved the NHS tens of millions of pounds over the cost of keeping the recipients of their kidneys on dialysis treatment."
A kidney from a living donor remains the very best treatment option for most patients with diseases of the organ.
A volunteer donor - which can be any healthy adult - goes through a thorough assessment over several months to ensure they are fit and healthy and that the risk to them is as low as possible.
If approved, they are matched with a suitable high priority recipient from the transplant waiting list. Further information can be found at www.giveakidney.org