Kathryn Glover’s Story
Kathryn Glover, 38, from Ballygowan, had a kidney transplant in 2009.
Kathryn is sharing her story to highlight the importance of organ donation.
“I am a teacher in Cedar Integrated Primary School, Crossgar. I teach 29 Primary 3 children and I love going to school every day – no school day is ever the same. I love watching the children learn and having that lightbulb moment where things just make sense.
“In 2003, I found blood in my urine and, quite quickly after that, I was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy. I was then put on the transplant list.
“I also started dialysis. The type I was on was called ‘peritoneal dialysis’, which required me going onto a machine every night, for around eight hours. That had a huge impact on my life, but mainly on my sleep, and how tired I was. The next biggest impact would have been on my social life – I couldn’t go out in the evening, and I was constantly clock-watching.
“I was on dialysis for four years. It was a difficult four years trying to keep my job going. I was extremely lucky at that time; I had a really supportive principal working with me, who let me take naps on a Wednesday afternoon. I just kept going as much as I could, because I was determined to not let dialysis get on top of me or my job.
“Looking back, I can remember in the first few weeks after being put on the transplant list thinking ‘the call could come any minute’ and every time the phone went I was checking. I then caught myself on and realised this is going to be a long wait.
“In the end I didn’t have to wait too long compared with some – the call came nearly four years to the day I started dialysis.
“I received my transplant on 7 June 2009, a day I will never forget. Sleeping as I would have done on a Sunday afternoon, the phone went and they said we have a kidney for you.
“Post-transplant I am doing well. I was really lucky to find sport again through the British Transplant Games. The following year I was selected for the World Transplant Games in Argentina. I was really lucky to come back with four medals. Since then I’ve been to two other World Games and it’s a wonderful experience and it’s a tribute to our donors, because we simply wouldn’t be there on the starting line without them.
“Organ donation has made a huge difference to my life. I am a completely different person, I am so active, I can give back to society and I simply wouldn’t be here if someone hadn’t agreed to donate their organs and have that conversation with their family. The simple message is this: if you believe in organ donation, have that conversation and be a lifesaver.”
Kathryn is a firm supporter of the Public Health Agency’s (PHA) new campaign to encourage people to have the chat with their family about organ donation.
Almost 140 people in Northern Ireland are on the transplant waiting list and sadly nine people died last year waiting for an organ.
The NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) Potential Donor Audit 2018-19 showed that 93% of families agreed to organ donation if a loved one had discussed their wishes and had joined the Organ Donor Register (ODR), but this drops dramatically to 51% if they have not. That is why knowing what a family member wants in the event of their death is crucial to increasing transplant rates and saving lives.
The PHA campaign places the focus firmly on the importance of having the conversation with family and friends so they are aware of your wishes which could make a very difficult time less stressful. The campaign also emphasises the key message that one organ donor can save or transform up to nine lives. For more information visit organdonationni.info