Merseyside doctor donates kidney to save her firefighter father

Knowsley doctor Kirsty Poole decided to become a living donor after her father’s kidney function deteriorated.

A retired firefighter has been given ‘a new lease of life’ after his GP daughter donated her kidney to give him a second chance.

Alan Jones, 68, who suffered from chronic kidney disease and renal failure, is now planning to travel abroad on holiday with his wife after the successful transplant at Royal Liverpool University Hospital.

Knowsley GP Kirsty Poole decided to donate her kidney after her father was told two years ago that his kidney function had severely deteriorated and his best chance of a long-term quality of life was to receive a kidney from a living donor.

Mr Jones had been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease in his mid-20s but had been living a normal life until his kidney function declined.

Alan Poole with is daughter Kirsty. Image: LUHFT

His daughter Dr Poole underwent surgery in November 2021 to donate her kidney.

She said: “The whole family had a lot to gain from a successful transplant. Dialysis would have been life-altering – and my parents deserved a second chance at life, to have their independence back.

“They’ve done so much for our family. I have no regrets donating my kidney. I’d do it again tomorrow.”

Mother-of-two Dr Jones, had talked through the idea of donation with her husband Lee, a consultant in critical care at the Royal.

She said: “Lee suggested I chat with the living donor co-ordinator at the Trust, Ann. She was so helpful in not overwhelming me with information and I read some case studies on living donation on the NHS Blood and Transplant website.

“Ann also advised I could get tissue type blood test to see if I was even a good match before committing to anything.”

The match was so good that Dr Poole decided to speak to her parents about the idea who were shocked by their daughter’s decision.

She said: “They were anxious but pleased. They were asking me if I was sure about surgery - what about the kids, what about Lee?

“But I wanted to do it, so we proceeded with all the investigations, scans and blood tests.

“After about six months we were told it was definitely doable and my dad tested well enough to receive the transplant.

“I remember Ann calling me at work and giving me a date that was three weeks later. It suddenly felt very real.”

Father and daughter were brought into the Royal and spent time with each other the night before the procedure.

The pair had made the decision to not see each other the morning of surgery, but Mr Jones couldn’t resist giving his daughter one last hug before her operation.

Dr Poole added: “It was very emotional, but all the staff were very and kind and supportive, especially my anaesthetist, Dr Nirmal Daniel. I remember waking up in recovery and couldn’t believe it was all done.

“I was relieved I was ok, but anxious to know how dad was doing. Our surgeon, Mr Sanjay Mehra, later came in to tell me it had all gone fine, which gave me lots of reassurance.

“It was a huge relief to see dad the next day. You could already tell the difference the kidney was making, he looked good considering how ill he had been.”

Nearly 10 months on from the transplant, the hospital said Mr Jones has been recovering really well and is back to doing the things he loves.

Dr Poole said: “My parents are even planning on travelling abroad next year. It’s such a blur now, sometimes you forget about it until someone asks how I am feeling, or my dad.

“The overriding message for me was this was the best chance we have as a family and that fuelled me throughout the whole process. It’s left me with a sense of achievement and an overwhelming sense of relief. I am so proud of my dad.”

What is living organ donation?

On average, only a third of transplants are from living donors – yet according to the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, receiving a kidney from a living donor has many advantages over deceased kidney donation.

Typically, as the kidney has come from someone who is fit and well, it works almost straight away and lasts longer for its recipient.

There is also a shorter wait for the transplant as someone has come forward, compared to the average three-year wait from a deceased donor.

·         Currently, there are over 100 patients at Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust on the transplant waiting list and many more on dialysis.

·         From April 2021 to April 2022, the Trust carried out 49 kidney transplants, eight of which were from living donors like Dr Poole. However, many patients are waiting for a transplant from a deceased donor.

Mr Sanjay Mehra, Clinical Lead and Consultant Transplant Surgeon, said: “Although the new organ donation law, also known as Max and Kiera’s law, was adopted in 2020 so that adults are ‘opted-in’ to organ donation unless they state otherwise, the family wishes are still taken into consideration before any decision is made.

“It’s so important that you share your wishes with your loved ones, so they are clear on your views.

“Not everyone is able to find a living donor like Kirsty and Alan. Also, if you are from a BAME (Black and Asian Minority Ethnic) community, often the wait can be considerably longer as there are a lower percentage of organ donations. Having this simple conversation about your decision can save someone’s life.”