Redcar man donates kidney after being deeply moved by the plight of a young girl

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John Cassell a 36-year-old IT coordinator from Redcar was so moved by the plight of a nine-year-old girl who needed a kidney that he decided to take action.

Altruistic donor John Cassell with Joanne Ashton, live kidney donor specialist nurse

He had found out about the girl via Twitter and he had no idea at that point what he could do to help, but he was determined to find out.

“I’d never really thought about how awful it must be to be so young and in need of a vital organ but there not being a suitable one available and having to wait. And for one person every single day, the wait is too long and they will die,” said John.

“I found out what life is like for a lot of people with kidney failure; many days a week in hospital on dialysis, not being able to hold down a job or take a holiday; a transplant can give them their life back.

“I would be eternally grateful if it was my child who needed a transplant and a stranger appeared out of the blue and saved their life. I really wanted to be that stranger to a family who was going through it right now and I am so glad that I was able to.”

After some research and ringing round John discovered that the renal unit at The James Cook University Hospital, part of South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, undertakes a lot of the pre-work prior to the actual transplant operation and last year he had an in depth discussion with consultant nephrologist Professor Caroline Wroe.

Professor Wroe is chair of the UK Living Kidney donation network, a group of professionals who work together to support best practice in living kidney donation in the UK.

Professor Wroe said: “Being an altruistic donor carries with it all the same risks of any major surgery and has an eight to ten week recovery rate. But the life time risks are small, with no long term lifestyle changes required other than maintaining healthy living. Donors of this nature often report improved psychological wellbeing after they donate.”

John said: “I knew I wanted to do it but I knew I wouldn’t do it if my partner and immediate family didn’t support my decision. It was also important for me to establish that no-one in my family had kidney disease or any chance they might need my kidney in the future.

“When I first told my partner she understandably had serious reservations and didn’t want me to do it, but when we talked about it at length she came to understand and support my reasons.”

Ultimately John’s family were supportive and proud of his actions and the operation took place in March this year with the only information available to John on the recipient being that his kidney went to a 30-year-old man.

John said: “I’m happy that my kidney went to someone who really needed it and that is enough for me. I’m not the sort of person who wants to talk about it a lot and I’m satisfied with my decision and it makes me feel good.”