Kidney-donation pals celebrate transplant op success

Helen Crowther and Andy Clewes Image copyright Helen Crowther
Image caption Helen Crowther and Andy Clewes are both recovering well after the procedure two months ago

A man who was given a kidney by his best friend says he feels "100% better" and is considering a charity skydive.

Andy Clewes had the transplant in Manchester after his friend Helen Crowther agreed to become a donor.

The 46-year-old suffered chronic kidney disease since birth and was on the verge of needing dialysis treatment.

Mr Clewes and Ms Crowther, 45, are now planning "a curry and a few beers" to celebrate the successful procedure, which was carried out in January.

"I've just got so much more energy now," Mr Clewes, a radio DJ from Crewe, Cheshire, said.

"There was a time when I could sleep 23-hour days, but now I struggle to get myself off to bed.

"It's hard to describe how it feels. Every now and then you remember how lucky you are to have your mate's kidney."

Image copyright Helen Crowther
Image caption Helen was "best woman" at Andy's wedding

Mr Clewes said the pair would like to get involved in charity work to support others in need of transplants - and may even take on an extreme challenge.

"There are a few organisations who do skydives and things like that, and I've never done something like that before," he said.

"I think it's something I'd like to look at once I'm fully recovered."

Although his strength has returned, Mr Clewes will continue to need regular check-ups and medication to prevent his body rejecting the organ.

But he added: "I'm feeling great. I'm exercising. It's really a life-changing step and I don't want to let Helen down."

Image caption Helen said it was "a privilege" to be able to give a kidney to her best friend

Ms Crowther, a charity worker from Runcorn, met her friend at a fundraising event in 2006 and later became "best woman" at his wedding.

She said: "I think Andy's a bit worried he might now take on some of my characteristics.

"I think his wife might like that as he might start tidying up around the house a bit more.

"We met up about four weeks after the operation and just fell back into normal every day chatting really.

"We have plans to celebrate properly and knowing Andy it will probably just be a few beers and curry."

About 3,000 people have kidney transplants each year in the UK and about a third of these are from living donors.

Kidney donation

Image copyright Getty Images
  • Kidneys filter waste products from the blood and convert them to urine.
  • These waste products can build up in people whose kidneys fail, which is potentially life threatening and the reason a transplant is needed.
  • Kidneys are the most common organ donated by a living person and a healthy person can lead a normal life with one working kidney.
  • Before 2006, living kidney donation was limited to exchanges between family members and friends but since the UK allowed "non-directed altruistic donation" by strangers, more than 500 people have had the operation.
  • There were 1,035 living kidney donor transplants performed in the UK in 2015-2016 - but as of September 2016, there are 5,338 people waiting for a kidney.

You can find more information on the NHS Organ Donation website.

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