Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Ten years since Scotland's first living kidney donation to stranger

John Fletcher and Gabriel Oniscu Image copyright PA
Image caption John Fletcher, who donated his kidney to a stranger in March 2009, met up with his transplant surgeon Gabriel Oniscu

The first person in Scotland to donate a kidney to a stranger has celebrated the 10th anniversary of his operation.

John Fletcher, 72, teamed up with the consultant surgeon who carried out the procedure at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary to mark the milestone.

Mr Fletcher, from Auchtermuchty in Fife, is one of only 78 people in Scotland to have made a living kidney donation to a stranger.

He described it as "the best thing I ever did".

Mr Fletcher said: "At the time, people around me thought I was crazy for even considering it. But if I could do it all over again, I would.

"The way I looked at it, it was a few weeks out of my life to save someone else's. It was major surgery, but the recovery was a lot quicker than I expected, and I was back at work within weeks.

"The feeling I had not been expecting was the sense of wellbeing after I'd donated, knowing I'd transformed another person's life and their future."

'Special moments'

Altruistic kidney donation is one of two routes to being a donor, with directed donations also being made to a person's friend, relative or partner rather than a stranger.

Mr Fletcher's surgeon, Gabriel Oniscu, said he continued to be "astonished and humbled" by the generosity of people who come forward to donate a kidney to a stranger.

He added: "It's a privilege to be part of that process.

"Transplantation is full of special moments, as you see the benefits a donated organ brings in terms of prolonging and enriching someone's quality of life."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Research suggests nearly a third of Scots have never heard of living kidney donation

An awareness drive has been launched ahead of World Kidney Day on Thursday.

Research of 1,000 adults in Scotland indicated nearly a third (30%) had not heard of living kidney donation.

It also suggested 83% would be likely to consider donating to a family member, 56% to a friend, 24% to a colleague and 16% to a stranger.

Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said: "Living kidney donation is an exceptional gift which has the power to transform the life of someone who needs a kidney transplant.

"Over 800 people in Scotland have helped others by donating a kidney in the last decade, however there are still more than 400 people in Scotland in need of a kidney."