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New kidney donor technique 'works'

A woman has spoken of her joy after becoming the world's first patient to receive a donor kidney treated with a new warming technique.

Deborah Bakewell, 56, was on dialysis for nine hours every night over a two-year period after suffering kidney failure.

Mrs Bakewell was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease, a rare, genetic illness that gradually leads to kidney failure, when she was 23. But the slow onset of symptoms means she did not suffer full-blown renal failure until 2008, when she was in her early 50s.

Experts announced the success of kidney transplants for 17 patients, including Mrs Bakewell, using a relatively new technique called normothermic perfusion. This involves warming the kidney with oxygenated blood after it has been in cold storage, reversing damage caused by low temperatures.

The technique also boosts the function of damaged kidneys from "marginal donors", such as the elderly or people with high blood pressure and diabetes, and cuts the risk of the organ being rejected.

Experts believe normothermic perfusion could increase the success rate of kidney transplants and extend the life of organs, while also boosting the number of organs available from marginal donors by about 500 a year.

Mrs Bakewell, who has four stepchildren and one child of her own, underwent her operation in December 2010. Her kidney was rejected by six transplant centres, owing to the fact it was damaged, but the team at Leicester had faith their new technique could improve its chances of functioning.

She said: "My mother also suffered from polycystic kidneys and it all caught up with her in her early 50s, as it did with me. My kidney function was about 8% and my organs were not filtering waste properly. I was getting more and more tired and kept getting kidney infections. Sometimes I thought I had terrible backache but it was actually a kidney infection."

Mrs Bakewell received her new kidney but her two own damaged kidneys were left in place.

She said: "I feel fantastic now and my kidney function is just amazing. It's probably quite a lot better than a lot of people my age with two kidneys. When I was on dialysis it was for nine hours a night, seven nights a week. Now I have my freedom. We have booked our first holiday in years for June, to Majorca."


From Belfast Telegraph