Former Royal Air Force Chef and Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) patient, AJ Roberts, received a lifesaving kidney transplant in July 2020, after being on the pre-emptive transplant list for just three days.

“I was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) in 1996 after I collapsed and found I had a multiple cyst burst. When my kidney function continued to decline, I left the RAF service. My condition was getting progressively worse to the point that I moved from Inverness, back to the South West and registered with the consultant team at Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.

Fast forward a few years later, I was having blood tests every month and a fistula was inserted in to my left arm in June 2020 ready to start dialysis a couple of months after.

Before I managed to start dialysis, I received a letter to say I was on the pre-emptive transplant list on Saturday 18th July 2020. I then got “the transplant call” very early on, the following Tuesday morning, 21st July 2020.

I was honestly in shock, I travelled to Bristol to undergo my transplant.

My consultant said at the time that I may actually hold the record for the fastest "list to op" call-up, possibly in the country. I came out of recovery very early on, a day after the operation on the 22nd July.

After the operation, I was still trying to get my head around the whole process a week later. I was just thankful that a very understandable friend was awake to pick up the phone and give me a lift to the hospital, or it may have been a very different story.

I took my recovery one day at a time and didn’t push myself too hard and eventually I slowly returned to my fitness activities. The Transplant Sport group on Facebook has been invaluable for recovery information and gentle exercises that I could do whilst at home.”

Although the kidney was not a perfect match, AJ has had no signs of rejection and her kidney function has improved significantly.

“My kidney function is now back up in the 70's, it went as low as 6% prior to the pre-op.

Since having my transplant, I’ve returned to my running group, and have had the opportunity to play as a goalkeeper for the England Transplant Football Team and train at St George's Park, which is a great honour for me being a huge football fan.

The England Transplant Football Team recently took part in a football tournament in Holland in June this year and we came third place. I enjoyed being selected to go to Holland to play for the team, it was a fantastic trip and a great bonding experience for all the team and staff. They are a great team to be involved with and I encourage any fellow transplant patients with a love of football to get involved and register their interest. Our next training camp is on 19th and 20th August at Wolverhampton University.”

AJ learned about the National Kidney Federation through her involvement with the England Transplant Football Team, for which the NKF is the shirt sponsor.

“The National Kidney Federation came to one of our training sessions at St George’s Park to launch this season’s kit, after being introduced to the charity, I took part in the NKF Best Foot Forward Challenge, a step challenge in support of the work they do to provide patient support.”

AJ celebrates her kidney anniversaries with Steve, a fellow patient who received the opposite kidney to hers.

“Steve is the guy who was in the next room to me when I was at Bristol Hospital after my transplant. He had the opposite kidney to mine, so I guess that makes us kidney twins! We meet up regularly for a meal and a drink to celebrate our gift of life and to toast to our donor.

I hope my story can inspire others to make their donor wishes known to their families in the event of something happening to them. I will be forever grateful to my late donor and to her family for carrying out her wishes, allowing her organs to be used to give me and to give others a second chance at life. I truly plan on using mine to the fullest.”

To learn more about the National Kidney Federation visit

For more information about the England Transplant Football Club and upcoming events, visit

To confirm your decision about your choices on the NHS Organ Donor Register visit