Scots man celebrating ‘best birthday present ever’ after life-changing transplant

A Scots dad who was given a second chance at life by his daughter is celebrating a decade since his transplant.

Glasgow man Brian Thomson had the ‘best birthday present ever’ after his daughter Pamela donated her kidney to him on February 3, 2012.

The 71-year-old collapsed at a wedding in 2010 and was rushed to hospital for tests.

Doctors discovered he only had one kidney and had been living with it since birth without knowing.

A problem with his prostate had caused issues with his remaining organ, and his kidney function had dropped to only 7 per cent.

He was now in kidney failure, reports Glasgow Live.

Brian said his diagnosis came as a shock as he had always kept well before falling ill.

He added: “I was a very healthy person, so this all came as a total surprise.

“After I collapsed at our friend’s wedding in July 2010, I was rushed to hospital in an ambulance where doctors discovered I had an enlarged prostate.

“They were confident they would be able to sort it out no problem, but when I wasn’t recovering as well as hoped, a scan showed that I’d been born with just one kidney. I never had any idea, and it just shows how well you can survive with only one.”

When a transplant was raised, Brian’s daughter Pamela and wife Margaret put themselves forward for testing to see if they would be a potential match, with Pamela being the closest.

He said: “I’m so fortunate not to have to go on the waiting list, and so only a year after being told I needed a transplant in February 2011, Pamela was able to donate me hers. It was actually just before my birthday , so that was the nicest birthday present I’ve ever had!

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“The hardest part of the whole experience was when I had to watch Pamela get wheeled away for the surgery and I thought to myself ‘Oh my she’s really doing this for me’. We were told by the surgeons that they were caught by surprise at how quickly the kidney started working.

Brian is now a doting grandfather to three grandsons, with Pamela unexpectedly welcoming her first son within a year of donating her kidney.

He added: “Since the transplant I’ve been absolutely fine – I have to go for regular check-ups but I’m in and out so quickly as everything comes back perfect straight away.

“After the transplant I decided to retire and then became a babysitter to Pamela’s boys when they were born. I’m so glad to get to spend so much time with them as their Papa.”

Pamela, 38, said: “I was 27, just married a year, and thinking about starting a family, but obviously the priority was dad. We have a small family, and my sister was a new mum and obviously my mum that bit older, we decided I’d put myself forward first.

“We had seven months of testing, and I had a bit of a wobble as there was the pull of wanting to start a family, but I was told I shouldn’t for a year after the surgery.

“Then Dad collapsed again at Christmas, and the medical team said we needed to do this in six weeks as they were unsure how well he’d respond to dialysis.

“I’d taken that time to get fit, I stopped drinking, and I thought ‘if I’m going to do this, I’m going to give you the best kidney I possibly can’. We were so lucky, we were told they couldn’t have had a more perfect match – the kidney worked instantly, and very quickly Dad became really well again. To this day, my kidney function has never dipped and his is the same as mine.

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“I accidentally found out I was pregnant six weeks later, and I was initially put under consultant care, but was dismissed instantly as my kidney function was totally normal. I’ve now got two kids, and the donated kidney is not a feature in my life, which I really thought it would be.”

The pair have now supported a new campaign to raise awareness of the benefits of living kidney donation.

Living kidney donation plays a vital role in increasing donation and transplantation rates in Scotland, with a kidney from a living donor generally offering the best outcomes for patients in need of a transplant.

There are two routes to living kidney donation – directed donation where a friend, relative or partner donates to a loved one, or non-directed altruistic donation which involves a person donating to a stranger.

Through raising awareness that living donation is an option, the hope is that more patients living with kidney failure can avoid or reduce the time they have to spend on dialysis, and have a better quality of life.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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