Before joining a new team at The James Cook University Hospital configurations administrator Susan Baldwin hadn’t given much thought to organ donation and wasn’t signed up to be a donor.
But, after hearing that her colleague’s son needed a kidney transplant, she discussed it with her family and decided to give him a life changing gift.
Shortly after joining the hospital’s medical rostering team Susan learnt that her colleague, and soon to be good friend, Gill Postgate’s son, Will, had a genetic condition called Alport syndrome.
Gill was very open about Will’s condition and that he would eventually deteriorate and would need a kidney transplant but remained very upbeat.
And, as time went on Gill received the news that Will, 22 from Guisborough, needed to start his transplant journey, mentioning it to Susan and the team.
“Will is only a year older than my son,” said Susan. “Initially I thought I wouldn’t be able to donate in case any of my family needed a transplant in the future.
But, when Gill finally got the news that Will needed to go on the transplant waiting list it seemed so unfair, they’re a normal hardworking family, so I thought I’m a fit and healthy person, what if everyone thought they needed to save a kidney in case a family member needed it?"
Susan spent a lot of time thinking about being a living donor and decided that if it was her son who needed a transplant, she’d like to think there was someone out there who would do the same for him.
After discussing it with her husband and son she quickly offered to help Will and was tested, along with Will’s dad, to see if she was a match.
Unfortunately, Will’s dad was unable to progress any further but Susan discovered she was a match in February 2021. Unfortunately following further tests a couple of months later she was advised she was unable to proceed.
Susan said: “I hated keeping it a secret that I’d gone for more tests but I didn’t want to raise anyone’s hopes. I was at work with Gill when I got the call to say I was a match, I was absolutely buzzing, it was amazing.”
Gill said: “It was incredible news that Susan was a match as Will had commenced peritoneal dialysis in November and was struggling with certain elements of it.”
She added: “As a family we will never be able to express our gratitude to Susan and the amazing medical teams at both James Cook and the Freeman.”
Now, just over seven months later Will has returned to fulltime work and says his life is on a vertical trajectory at the moment.
“The transplant has changed my life in ways you can’t put into words,” Will said.
The simplest way to put it is I have my life back and it’s amazing. I’m struggling to describe how grateful and thankful I am to Susan and always will be."
Organ Donation Week
Will, his mum and Susan are now encouraging others to talk openly about organ donation with their families and consider becoming living donors.
Susan, who like Will has now fully recovered, added: “I’m so lucky that I get to hear how well Will is doing. The more I think about it the more I think it was meant to be – me joining a new team, meeting Gill, hearing about Will, me being a match – it was all meant to be.”