In honour of World Kidney Day celebration, Guardian Media’s Jessie-May Ventour spoke out about her experience in saving her brother’s life by donating one of her kidneys.
In 2008, Ventour’s brother, Matthew was diagnosed with renal failure after he collapsed and was hospitalised for a month.
“He was dialysed practically every day for the first couple weeks for the first couple weeks. Between 2008 and 2011 when we did the transplant, he would have to do dialysis three times a week in order to stay alive. For someone whose kidneys stop working dialysis is the only thing keeping them alive,” she explained.
Despite this, she said her brother always kept positive and never showed them his discomfort.
During his treatment, Matthew was given the option of having a kidney transplant. On hearing this, Ventour and her family immediately began searching for a viable candidate within their family. Initially, her cousin was supposed to donate her kidney, however, upon receiving further tests, she was deemed unsuitable. All was not lost, however, as Ventour found out she was a viable candidate.
“It was a very easy decision for me if I am viable and he can get his life back, then by all means, not an issue at all,” she said.
Asked if she felt any different following the operation, she said: “That’s one of the things that many people who are considering a live donation worry about. You can continue to live your life just as normal because the body is so amazingly designed that…yes, it’s great if you have both of them but you can function and live a healthy life with just one. The only caveat they tell you is that you need to drink a lot of water,” Ventour explained. Even though the surgery was a success, it was a bitter-sweet time of their lives. In 2011, Ventour and her brother checked into the hospital for the operation, however, while Matthew was still recovering at hospital their father lost his battle with cancer.
“My brother got his new lease on life on the first and my dad said goodbye to life on the eighth. Mummy told me that it seemed as though he was just hanging around long enough to make sure that everything went well with the both of us and we came through it perfectly before he said okay God, take me home. I can go now,” she said.
For those who are not comfortable donating their organs while they are alive, she urged that deceased donations are also a great option.
“There have been several deceased donations and with a deceased donation, if you have both your kidneys, you can help two people. Two people actually regain their life who would have been suffering renal issues,” she explained
“When you love somebody, you would be willing to take a bullet for them, you would be willing to sacrifice anything—give up your life literally for them you know, just to make sure they’re happy.”