Now I can finally give my little sister the gift of life
A WESTON-super-Mare woman has been told she can give her sister the gift of life – months after she was told she would not be a suitable kidney donor.
Jude Skilton had always hoped she would be able to give her younger sister Jo Shipley a kidney when she needed one but was told that her own health problems ruled her out as a donor.
But seven months after Ms Shipley was told her sole kidney was failing and she would need a transplant, Mrs Skilton has finally been told she will be able to donate one of her own.
The sisters are now waiting for a date for the transplant operation at Southmead Hospital but Mrs Skilton, 34, has passed all the medical tests a living kidney donor has to go through. There are a few additional checks she is having to go through with due to her own health issues but the sisters are delighted to have reached the final stage of the process.
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Ms Shipley, 32, had one of her kidneys removed when she was just eight days old because there was a tumour on it. The mum-of-two has dealt with health problems throughout her life, having also been born with spina bifida.
Last summer, Ms Shipley became very unwell and doctors eventually discovered that she was suffering kidney failure.
She needed to start dialysis treatment straight away and was put on the list for a transplant.
Mrs Skilton said from the start that she was willing to donate one of her kidneys to her sister but the transplant team at Southmead initially ruled her out because of an auto-immune condition she had been diagnosed with about ten years before.
When she could not help directly, Mrs Skilton decided to raise awareness of kidney donation by writing a blog about her sister and encouraging people to become living donors. As a result of her posts the team at Southmead hospital were inundated with calls.
Mrs Skilton was not convinced that her diagnosis of fibromyalgia should prevent her donating a kidney to help her sister so went back to her GP, who referred her back to a rheumatologist.
"They wrote to Southmead and said they could not see any reason why I could not be a donor," Mrs Skilton said.
"I had all the tests done and a few extra as well – the care of the donor comes before that of the recipient because they do not want to end up with another patient down the line.
"Living donors give the best chance for people like my sister.
"I feel pleased that I can help her – although it has been an emotional rollercoaster.
"I have been given the all-clear on the medical side and just need to get my fitness up before I get a date."
Mrs Skilton said her sister's dialysis was no longer working as well as it had been and it was important that she gets a new kidney.
"That means she is in grave danger, but to be told I can do it is massive," she said.
"Jo just can't believe it and we really can't wait for the date now. It has given us something to look forward to."
Mrs Skilton has organised a fundraising quiz night at the Britannia Inn, Weston-super-Mare on Thursday at 8pm.
For more information visit www.kidneyresearchukevents.org/ march142013.