Transplant survivor makes organ donors appeal

Jamie McGregor owes his life to a kidney transplant one year ago. Picture: Gareth Easton
Jamie McGregor owes his life to a kidney transplant one year ago. Picture: Gareth Easton
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A FATHER-of-two whose life was transformed after he had a kidney transplant is on a mission to encourage others to register to become organ donors during Organ Donation Week.

As Jamie McGregor approaches the one-year anniversary of his kidney transplant he is sharing his story in a bid to save lives. The 44-year-old’s acute renal failure came out of the blue while he was on holiday in Paris in 2013, resulting in him spending two weeks in intensive care. On his return home, a new regime of regular dialysis started, initially for three hours a day, three days a week.

Four years on, Jamie was dialysing for five hours, three days a week, and although he continued to work, the limitations his treatment placed on his life were significant. He said: “Balancing dialysis with work and family made life pretty interesting, particularly towards the end. Dialysing for five hours destroyed any semblance of a normal life.

“Before I was diagnosed with kidney failure, I had been feeling unwell for about three months, and initially everything got better with dialysis. However, after four years, I felt it was putting a real strain on my body, and I struggled between sessions.”

Jamie knew his wait would be around three to four years, and was reassured by the fact that when the time came, it would be the right kidney for him. As Jamie prepared to move to home dialysis, a suitable donor kidney was found, and the transplant went ahead four hours after he arrived at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

The transplant was a success, but Jamie’s recovery wasn’t straightforward due to issues with the functioning of the kidney, with Jamie describing it as needing “a little bit of time”. He spent three months in hospital and was discharged at Christmas, and since then has never looked back, recently returning to rugby coaching.

Reflecting on his donor, and what they did for him, Jamie said: “It’s an amazing gift. It’s the gift of life. I’ll never be able to meet the person who did this for me. And I’m not sure I’d know what to say to them if I did. It’s completely changed my life.

“For me, it’s not about opting in or out, it’s about having that conversation about what you would want to happen with those you love. When someone dies the emotion and stress of that time means that making the decision is made even more difficult by not having talked about it. “

During Organ Donation Week people across Scotland are being encouraged to join the NHS Donor Register and share their decision with loved ones. Jamie said: “I hope people use Organ Donation Week as an opportunity to have that conversation and join the NHS Organ Donor Register. It’s not just saving one life, it does so much more. I personally will never stop being grateful.”