A Gifted Life to Saving Lives: A Transplant Recipient, Coastguard and Emergency Care Assistant's Story

When Ross, 27, from Bridlington, was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection (UTI) he was just nine years old. He was admitted to Scarborough Hospital for seven days, and the last thing he expected was that he could face a future of kidney failure.

After the seven days of admission at Scarborough Hospital in 2006, Ross was referred to the Leeds Children’s Renal Team for further investigations. The results revealed that Ross had scarring on his kidneys.

Ross explains: “It was later on in 2011 that the doctors found that my kidneys had taken a big impact from the UTI that I had in 2006. We continued to have several appointments at St James Hospital in Leeds with regular check-ups. As time progressed, it was apparent that my kidneys were on a trajectory to fail within 12 months and there were talks of the dreaded treatment of dialysis. However, luckily for me, I didn’t have dialysis treatment as I was put onto the Kidney Transplant Register in April 2012. Then on 9th May 2012, at around 22:30, I was called to Leeds at St James Hospital with a potential donor match and then I went on to proceed with the surgery.”

With the journey that Ross has personally experienced, this hasn’t put him off from working and supporting other people in need. He joined the Non-Emergency Patient Transport Service in early 2021 in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, in January of this year, Ross then decided to take the role as an Emergency Medical Dispatcher taking 999 calls from the general public up until recently, before joining the Yorkshire Ambulance Service as an Emergency Care Assistant. All in addition to his ongoing work as an HM Coastguard volunteer.

Ross said: “I chose the emergency services as a career path as, not only do I want to help people who are having a bad day, I want to give something back to my community. I am now a qualified Emergency Care Assistant and will be working on frontline NHS ambulances with a Paramedic. Helping those who are in need. This gives me a great buzz as the end goal is helping someone who is poorly get the right treatment.”

Speaking about his nine-year service as a Coastguard Rescue Officer, Ross said: “I joined my local HM Coastguard Bridlington team as soon as I was old enough to join. Much has changed within the service since I joined and it’s very much an ongoing programme of continuous improvement. Just this year, every single coastguard rescue vehicle has had an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) installed, which boosts our lifesaving capabilities and the chances of someone going home to their loved ones, just as the kidney transplant did for me.

Speaking from his experiences, Ross said: “The most important advice I would give to people that have been through a similar journey with a kidney condition is that whatever situation you are in, or however down you feel, you’re never alone. There are a lot of people to talk to. Whether it be the renal transplant team, your local hospital, or a transplant sports team, make sure that you reach out.”