Ralph and June’s story

June Henderson had been aware for some years her kidney function was not as good as it should be. She had been having six monthly checks and the condition did not interfere too much with her very active lifestyle.

Ralph and June Henderson

After a hip replacement operation her kidney function was deteriorating steadily and signs of arthritis increasing. The next course of action peritoneal dialysis started in September 2013. Husband Ralph tells Talking Point their story:

“We met with Alison to find out if a kidney transplant was a possible solution and initial blood tests were arranged. The results were good and after further blood tests during October we were pleased to learn we were a good enough match for transplantation.

“We both were examined to determine our general health was good enough to cope with the operation and my renal consultant, Dr Caroline Wroe, kept me informed as to progress, which looked good.

“We had our first visit to the Freeman Hospital in November and met Professor David Talbot, consultant transplant surgeon. At this time I was two weeks short of my 75th birthday and June was 77. He assured us age was not a problem as long as we were as fit as we seemed to be.

“Further tests were arranged for June during December including the ‘bike test’ which she was dreading. Postponed until February due to illness – June declared herself better on a bike than walking and passed with flying colours.

Dr Wroe explained the results of earlier tests – which all seemed satisfactory and about this time I met Mr Naeem Soomro consultant urologist from the Freeman Hospital who explained the operation, the things which could possibly go wrong and the statistics relating to this operation. He arranged for fitness tests for me which went very well.

“Then came a period when nothing seemed to be happening until we were both called to James Cook in March to meet with an independent assessor – a legal requirement to ensure I was under no duress or financial incentive to donate my kidney to my wife of 57 years! Also to inform me that I was at liberty to change my mind at any time.

Ralph and June Henderson and renal day unit staff

“We were back with Alison for final bloods before the transplant was scheduled to take place on 21 May. Due to my high temperature on the day it was decided not to proceed and we were sent home.

“The operation was rescheduled for Thursday 26 June and this time all went well. On Friday morning various tubes bags and bottles were removed and off I went to see how June had fared.

“She was not immediately as mobile as me as her operation had been more intensive and she still had tubes bags and bottles connected. All the staff assured us it had been a great success and her new kidney was working well. When I left after three days she was up and about and had all her tubes removed and was feeling better.

“In spite of the set-backs I don’t think we waited overly long. The benefits for June have been dramatic. Her new kidney worked immediately. She was home on day nine and found she was more mobile and able to walk up and down stairs without the pain she had recently suffered. She no longer got out of breath and her cough disappeared.

“Friends and family remark on how well she looks. She feels as though we now have a chance to get our life back. I don’t feel bad either! We’ll be forever grateful to the first class care and concern of the medical staff at the Freeman and James Cook.”