FIVE years after going on the organ donation list, postman Stephen Knight says receiving a double kidney transplant is the best Christmas present he could have ever wished for.
The 51-year-old, of Meadow Road, Worthing, was just about to go out on his round on December 21 when his partner Janette Denney received a call from St George’s Hospital in Tooting to say that a donor kidney may be available.
Mr Knight was diagnosed with Branchio-Oto-Renal syndrome, a rare genetic condition that affects one in 40,000 people, nine years ago.
He said: “I have always had problems with my hearing and I have had lumps on my neck in the past. “This is a disease that is quite rare in this country and looking back I could see that it had all been connected.
“I lost my father when he was 42 and we did not really know what was wrong with him but I think he probably had the disease that I have got.
“Soon after I was given the news I was told that I would had to have a transplant at some point. It was always looming but you still have to get on with your life as best you can.”
Before the transplant Mr Knight had received dialysis three times a week for the last two years.
“Kidney failure is a very gradual process, but when the kidneys get down to a 10 per cent working rate you have to go on dialysis, and both of mine were no good,” he said.
“I was deteriorating. I always felt very tired, had a lot of time off work for health reasons and we have missed out on certain things such as going on holidays because of my condition.
“You are told that being on dialysis does not affect your life but it totally runs it. I was going to work at 6am, doing my shift then going to the hospital from 2pm to 6pm. It is a lot to contend with.
“I was in shock when I heard that a donor was available, I could not believe it.
“Looking back, I think they knew that it was a perfect match but they cannot say it, so there was always a chance that it wouldn’t happen.
“We jumped in a taxi straight away. I don’t remember the journey because I was thinking all sorts.
“You have got to remember that someone has died in order for this kidney to be available, which is very difficult.”
Mr Knight was told at the hospital that he would be undergoing a rare double kidney transplant, in order to give him a better quality of life.
He was in theatre for nine hours, and spent three days in the high-dependency intensive care unit, where he had three blood transfusions.
He returned home on New Year’s Day and the couple celebrated Christmas with their daughters Georgia and Katrina, last week.
Mr Knight said: “I am still very emotional about it all but I could not have asked for anything better for Christmas- this is better than I ever thought possible as I have been told that the new kidneys are working and I am able to pass water which I have not been able to do for years.
“It is just amazing and I want to say to people that are on the donor list or are having dialysis that there is hope.
“This is my chance now for a normal life, though I think I will always wonder where the kidneys came from and particularly if it was a young person that died.
“I have talked to the doctors about getting in contact with the family as it is something that I would like to do.
“I have had so much support from friends and family and Janette has been amazing.
“We have a future now.”