Radio 4's Carolyn Brown to give kidney to husband

Carolyn Brown Carolyn Brown will be giving her husband the ultimate Christmas gift, the chance at a new life

Carolyn Brown, a Radio 4 continuity announcer and newsreader, will be donating her kidney to her husband next month in an operation that carries risks for the donor.

Brown, who has only been married 18 months, told Woman's Hour on Monday that she was undergoing surgery for 'selfish reasons'. In conversation with Jane Garvey, Brown denied that she was a saint because she was prepared to give her left kidney to husband Bruce Connell.

'I am doing it for very selfish reasons - I am doing it to preserve my life and Bruce's life and our life together, which is very important.'

Connell discovered there was a problem with his kidneys when he had a stroke eight years ago; his health has been in decline ever since and has reached a tipping point. Without an imminent donor, he would need to have dialysis.

Confronted with this stark alternative, Brown, 57, said she was determined that her husband should get a transplant instead of face the grim prospect of dialysis, which 'turns your life upside down' and is 'incredibly disruptive'.

In a moment of levity, Brown joked: 'I thought he was marrying me because of my cosy little cottage in the country, it turns out he was after my spare parts.'

The main drawback of donating a kidney is feeling exhausted for several weeks. Brown compared it to having a baby, saying that people have been making a fuss of her, but afterwards she will need some time to recover and will feel tired.

It's anticipated that Brown, who joined Radio 4 presentation in 1991, will need about four to six weeks to recuperate, while Connell will feel the benefit of the surgery almost immediately.

With the operation scheduled for January 16, the newsreader guesses that she will be back to work in six weeks and hopes to go skiing in March.

Garvey quipped: 'Well, you will be back at work. You know what this place [BBC] is like. There's no chance you won't be back at work.'

The donor surgery, although not as invasive as it used to be, does carry risks, with Connell praising the bravery of donors for 'effectively putting their life on the line' for others.

There are approximately 6,500 to 7,000 people waiting to have a kidney transplant in this country. About 2,000 manage to find a donor and get a transplant every year. The rest remain on dialysis.


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