Moira (left) celebrating her 70th birthday with her daughter.
Moira (left) celebrating her 70th birthday with her daughter

On the 29th March 2021, it will be 20 years since I received a kidney transplant.

I had no idea that I had kidney disease until I had pre-eclampsia during my first pregnancy, which resulted in a stillbirth at 32 weeks. I was very naive at 23 years old in 1973. I was followed-up with many investigations, kidney biopsies etc. before I was allowed to try again as it could have been a risk to my life. I went on to have two healthy children, both low-birth weight but they thrived.

I always remember the day I was told that my kidneys would fail by the age of 50. That seemed a lifetime away at 25. I carried on with my life, which included qualifying as a nurse at 41 and working in an intensive care unit. It was 1996 when I changed GP practices an they were surprised that I had not been referred to a renal unit despite worsening kidney profile. Up to this point I just had check-ups at the local district hospital.

New Year's Eve 1996 was memorable as an eminent renal consultant at Guy's hospital gave me fours years before I'd need dialysis. The living donor programme was in its infancy and although my sister offered, we were not compatible. Guy's had diagnosed renal nephropathy and told me that I had probably been born with the condition.

I wanted some freedom so opted for continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD), having had a peritoneal catheter inserted. On my 50th birthday, I had my first dialysis and was on a training programme. I worked in my local ICU and my colleagues were so understanding when I went to dialyse mid-shift, as it was a 6-hourly treatment, 24 hours per day.

I learnt how to operate nocturnal automated peritoneal dialysis (APD) and the equipment was set-up in my bedroom. It was early to bed and the odd leaking dialysate before I became proficient, but it gave me a lot more freedom during the day.

Eighteen months later the call came that a cadaver kidney was suitable. I was ecstatic. Life has had its ups and downs, but thankfully I've had no rejection episodes. I retired at 60 as my stamina was less and I was susceptible to various infections. I now have a granddaughter, the love of my life and my kidney blood picture remains very stable.

I am forever thankful to my donor for their selfless decision.