I was 19 when I took a pain in my right-hand side. A visit to my GP resulted in the urologist from my local hospital paying a domiciliary visit. This then resulted in a battery of tests. It was heading for the new year and I remember getting an appointment for January 3rd to have an intravenous pyelogram scan (IVP) at the local hospital. Halfway through the exam the scanner decided to break down and I had to be removed to another scan room. I think my dad had thought they had lost me the time it had taken!

On returning to the hospital for the results, the consultant told me that he didn't know what to do to relieve my pain, other than to take out my right kidney, which was smaller than my left and had been scarred through having been damaged by urine infections.

A check of my medical history revealed that I had repeatedly had urine infections that had been left untreated for the last five years as I was asymptomatic. The infections silently damaged my kidneys.

I was referred to the Western Infirmary in Glasgow and on my first visit there, they were horrified to learn that the consultant wanted to remove my kidney. I was put on a low dose prophylactic and told my kidneys would last for about 10 years before I would need to go onto dialysis and need a transplant. My mum, who had come along with me to the appointment, was absolutely devastated. She blamed herself for not getting me the antibiotics earlier. Fortunately, because of the excellent care I received, I didn't need to go on dialysis for 26 years.

No matter how long you know that dialysis is going to happen, the day it happens is always a shock. For me, it was the day before Christmas Eve 2020. Walking into Monklands hospital I was shell-shocked. I had put it off until I couldn't put it off any longer. Dialysis was my life for the next four years. Three times a week for four hours I was connected to a machine.

I suffer badly from low blood pressure which meant that they couldn't take fluid from me. On many occasions, instead of going home after my session, I had to stay until my blood pressure improved. I hated every minute of it. Dialysis takes over every part of your life. You are restricted by what you can eat, how much you can drink, you can't just decide to go on holiday as you need to arrange dialysis when you are away.

To qualify for a transplant, I had to lose 13 stone in weight, which I did. It took me two and a half years. I was added to the transplant list one month after I started dialysis. I was advised to have a bag ready for when I do get the call. I don't know if it's a fear of not having it but me and many patients never get round to packing that bag.

2014 was an amazing year. I had been able to run the with the Queen's Baton for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and then I volunteered at the Games, thanks to me dialysis unit rearranging all my dialysis sessions, but it was just about to get even better.

One evening as I was driving home, I got to Wishaw Sports Centre and my phone rang. My first thought was 'who is calling me at this time of night?' My hands free didn't work and I missed the call. Luckily, I was only two streets from home and when I got home I looked at my phone and saw it was the Glasgow Health Board's number. At 11:45 p.m. they called back and said that they had a kidney waiting for me and I needed to get to the hospital as soon as possible. That call has changed my life in so many ways!

I arrived at the hospital at 1:00 a.m. and was in theatre at 6:00 a.m. The new kidney was sleepy for a few days and I had a few complications, but my life is so much better now. I was able to go to my brother's wedding and I can now spend quality time with my sister. I have been able to compete at the British Transplant Games and in 2019 I was the first person from North Lanarkshire to represent Great Britain at the World Transplant Games - something I'm very proud of.

I have trained and qualified as a counsellor, and I can now go on holiday if and when I want now. This has all been made possible thanks to my donor and their family carrying out his wishes.

As the law changes in Scotland, I hope that many more people are able to benefit from the the gift of organ donation. I encourage families to have that talk and please tell your loved ones. Let's make it a conversation that we all have and let's pass on the gift of life so everyone benefits.