Staff in the renal department at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust held a celebratory event this week for a patient to mark the fiftieth year since he received his kidney transplant. This is the longest surviving current kidney transplant on record at the Trust and one of the longest in the UK.
Harry Turner, 70, from Millom in Cumbria underwent kidney transplant surgery at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne, in 1969. This amazing kidney and gift of life was kindly donated by his brother, Victor. The average lifespan of a kidney transplant from a living relative is 10-16 years, with an average of six years longer if from a live donor. Harry has now had his transplanted kidney for a fantastic 50 years.
Staff at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals organised a special event to celebrate this fantastic milestone; which took place on Monday 7th January 2019 at Royal Preston Hospital. Fellow transplant patients, members of staff, and members of the executive team at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals attended the event to celebrate.
Mark Brady, Clinical Director for Renal Medicine at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, kicked off the celebratory event. He said: “We think this might possibly be the longest time that a current kidney transplant from a living donor has lasted in the UK. We cannot find a record of an older transplanted kidney currently in the UK. So, it is fantastic to be able to celebrate this achievement and showcase how important organ donation truly is; and the impact that it has on lives.”
Jenny Barlow, Transplant Nurse Practitioner at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals organised this special event to celebrate the fiftieth year of Harry’s transplantation. Jenny said: “We didn’t feel like we could let this remarkable occasion pass without a celebration.”
At the event, the team also presented Harry with a special commemorative gift to mark the occasion. The plaque was created by fellow transplant patient Robin Sharples and his talented friend Jim Cooper. The pair used pewter from melted beer tankards and aluminium to incorporate a tree of life intertwined with a kidney shape to celebrate this fiftieth year, whilst reflecting the special link between Harry and his brother.
Harry said: “Sadly, my brother Victor passed away when he was just 39 from a heart attack, which was a real shock. I am so grateful for what he did for me. As soon as I had the operation, I felt so much better. I was up and walking about in the hospital ward before my brother was. My brother was three years older and was really pleased he was able to do that for me.”
“Having the transplant has enabled me to live a full life. I managed to hold down a full-time job in construction until I was 58. It was life changing for me.”
“The staff at Preston Hospital have looked after me so well over the last 12-15 years, and I am really pleased that the team organised the celebration for me this week. I’m so lucky to have reached fifty years with my transplant, you can only hope that it would last so long. You don’t see many lasting so long. I would truly urge people to join the organ donation register.”
Dr Aimun Ahmed, Renal Consultant, has cared for Harry for several years. Speaking at the event, he said: “Harry is a fantastic example showcasing the importance of organ donation and the effect that it has on lives. Kidney transplants are precious gifts that save lives. We currently have 727 transplant patients at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals and are above average in the UK for the amount of patients that undergo transplants each year.”
Register to be an organ donor at www.organdonation.nhs.uk; and let your friends and family know you want to help others after your death.