Scotland

Aberdeen woman donates kidney to save ex-boyfriend's life

Paul Duncan and his ex-girlfriend Rebecca Morrice Image copyright SIMON PRICE
Image caption Paul Duncan's life was saved by a gift of a kidney from his ex-girlfriend Rebecca Morrice

A woman has saved her ex-boyfriend's life by giving him one of her kidneys.

Rebecca Morrice and Paul Duncan's relationship had ended several years before but they remained close friends.

And when Mr Duncan's long-term kidney condition deteriorated two years ago, Ms Morrice, 30, didn't hesitate to offer herself as a transplant donor.

Her kidney has now given the fitness instructor a new lease of life. The case is being used to highlight the importance of donations.

Ms Morrice, from Aberdeen, told BBC Radio Scotland's Kaye Adams programme that her own health had suffered initially but she has now fully recovered.

She said preparations for the operation were particularly rigorous because Mr Duncan also has cystic fibrosis.

It was the first kidney transplant of its kind in the UK, she said, because of the added complexity of the condition.

'Rebecca saved my life'

The friends had begun a relationship in 2009 but it ended after two years.

"Touch wood, everything has gone brilliantly. My recovery was about two and half months," said Ms Morrice.

"I felt a little bit unwell afterwards, obviously - I've gone from being a healthy individual with two kidneys to losing one of those.

"But the amazing thing was when it (the kidney) was transplanted into Paul he almost instantly felt a lot better.

"I've just got better and better each day, and I'm completely back to normal now - you wouldn't know that it's happened."

She added: "There's no adverse side effects for myself - and Paul is doing brilliantly.

"He's back to the gym, getting fit and healthy again - it is such a positive outcome."

Mr Duncan's life was on hold after unexpected kidney failure left him barely able to walk up his stairs at home and he was put on dialysis.

He feared a transplant wouldn't be possible, as the kidney failure reduced his lung function substantially, meaning there were increased risks involved in the surgery.

However, thanks to Ms Morrice and his medical team, the transplant went ahead at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh in December.

Ms Morrice was among six people who came forward to offer a kidney - but tests revealed hers to be the best match.

Image copyright SIMON PRICE
Image caption When Paul Duncan's long-term kidney condition deteriorated, Rebecca Morrice didn't hesitate to offer herself as a donor

Mr Duncan, from Torphins, Aberdeenshire, said: "My cystic fibrosis had never caused me many issues, so the kidney failure was really hard to deal with.

"I went from being fit and active, to struggling to get up the stairs to my flat and having no quality of life. "

He said: "Rebecca saved my life and I can't put into words what it is she's done for me.

"Nothing I could ever do in the rest of my lifetime could repay her enough.

"She was so laid back through the whole process, nothing phased her at all which helped me through it.

"What she did for me, and my family, was quite simply amazing."

Ms Morrice, who works a field service engineer for an oil company, said: "I wasn't fully aware of how severe Paul's condition was until I visited him in hospital.

"I knew I wanted to get tested from that moment on, and that never wavered.

"One of my great friends was in need, and I kept thinking what if it was one of my family.

"For that reason, it was a no brainer and probably one of the easiest decisions I ever made."

Living donors

Living kidney donation rates in Scotland are currently increasing year on year, with the number of living donors in Scotland rising from 86 in 2016/17 to 95 in 2017/18.

A healthy person can lead a completely normal life with one working kidney, and over the last ten years over 500 people in Scotland have become living kidney donors.

A successful kidney transplant from a living donor is the best treatment option for people with end-stage kidney disease.

There are currently over 400 people waiting for a kidney transplant in Scotland.

Public health minister Aileen Campbell said: "Paul's life was saved by the selfless actions of Rebecca.

"Thankfully we're seeing an increase in the number of patients like Paul, whose lives are being transformed by living kidney donation.

"Life on dialysis can be extremely tough for some, and with the average wait for a deceased donor kidney in the UK being over two years, it's vital we continue to raise awareness of the benefits to give hope and a future to those living with the realities of end stage kidney failure."

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