Rachel's Story I was born with a TOF (oesophageal atresia and tracheo-oesophageal fistula) which is a complex rare congenital abnormality that affects the bowel, reproductive system and the upper chest and only occurs in one in every 3,500 babies. I also developed renal hypoplasia (small kidneys) and my two kidneys had joined (fused) together, commonly known as horseshoe kidney. From a young age, I started to get urinary tract infections and was on constant antibiotics. I was then diagnosed with reflux nephropathy. I endured numerous urological surgeries that caused my bladder to become neurogenic - which meant it was unable to empty of urine completely and this, in turn, caused hydroephrosis of the kidneys. The only way I was able to pass urine completely was with the aid of an indwelling catheter, but this came with its drawbacks. When I was nine, I went to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London to have further bladder neck surgery (urethroplasty) as it was narrowed and I had scar tissue. I was taught how to self-catheterise which gives me the freedom from having an indwelling catheter. Growing up I had an extremely happy childhood. I went on family holidays and due to being in and out of hospital, I missed a lot of time in school, which I thought was cool at the time! Aged 17, I endured more surgery as it came to light that my bladder wasn't working properly and was causing damage to my kidneys. I underwent a bladder augmentation (clamcystoplasty) using a piece of ileum (small intestine) to make my bladder larger - which is amazing when you think about it! But over the years my bladder started to develop more infections and in 2006, I was told I had stage 3 CRF (chronic renal failure) and I would eventually need a kidney transplant. Aged only 26 at the time, I didn't fully understand the implications. Thinking about transplant In 2011, my kidney function started to decline. I was referred to a consultant nephrologist and the discussion of a transplant was brought up. The transplant workup was put in place and my now husband Lee, came forward to be tested as a potential donor. Unfortunately, Lee wasn't a match. It was a blow to us all. It was then my dad realised he could potentially be a match as he is a universal blood group and he came forward to be tested. It was a lengthy process, and during this time I became increasingly unwell, more fatigued and closer to requiring dialysis. Finally, the news came through - my dad was a perfect match. The transplant went ahead at the Royal Manchester Infirmary on 19th October 2012, performed by Mr Ashfin Tavakoli. Everything went well, and I remebers being wheeled back to the ward and asking, "Where's my stuff from Primark?" and "I could murder a cup of tea!" The kidney was producing lots of urine and the next morning I immediately felt different. The colour has returned to my face and I no longer felt tired. I thought about my dad who had just saved my life with an amazing gift, and how incredibly lucky I was. So I decided to name my kidney "Poirot", in honour of my dad who loves the TV series. Gifted Organs I was now able to get on with my life. The next year I got married and my dad proudly walked me down the aisle. The year after I was a bridesmaid for my sister, who was married in Cyprus. I recently marked my seven-year transplant anniversary and celebrated with the Gifted Organs transplant choir (where every member has been touched by organ donation) and recorded a couple of songs with them, which are being released next year (2021). My life has changed for the better by the brave and selfless decision of my dad. I honestly don't know what path my life would have taken, and I might not be here today. Organ donation can save, change and improve lives, for both the recipient and their family. This is why it is so important to tell your loved ones your donation decision and please, sign up to the Organ Donation Register so others can live on. If you feel inspired to tell your story, please send it to [email protected] and we'll add it to the site.