I Gave My Kidney To My Sister But There Shouldn’t Be A Happy Ending – Catriona Thomson

jenny’s wedding day

My friends and colleagues Dani Garavelli and John Devlin documented our live kidney trip to Scotland on Sunday to raise awareness. I gladly donated my left kidney to improve my sister Jenny’s quality of life as her kidney function was reduced due to polycystic kidney disease.



Insight: A Gift of Life for a Beloved Sister – Dani Garavelli

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After an extensive array of tests and procedures, my left kidney was removed by a transplant team in Edinburgh last November 18th and brought to Cardiff to be implanted in my sister to give her the best chance of longevity and a chance of recovery. more normal life.

Jenny Crossley with her younger sister Kat Thomson

Everything went well after my procedure and I was discharged from the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary four days later to continue my recovery at home. Looks like I luckily avoided the worst predicted “you’ll feel like you’ve been hit by a bus.” The general pain was more unpleasant than excruciating. It felt like someone was rummaging through my insides, which, in truth, they were. But just two weeks after the operation, despite the fatigue, I felt that I was starting to recover.

My sister has had a number of setbacks in her recovery, but the overall mood of the professionals has always been optimistic. Although Jenny was still in the hospital in Cardiff, it appeared that Jenny would be allowed to go home to celebrate Christmas.

However, when my brother called early on the morning of December 5, I answered instantly and carefully, “How are you?” – only for him to break the terrible news. Martin, my sister’s husband, was in touch. Jenny’s condition suddenly worsened and she died as a result of a cerebral hemorrhage.

Thomson cat. In the photo: Nina Kunkel

Wave after wave of seething disbelief, followed by a wall of unbearable sadness; her sudden loss stunned our entire family.

So our Christmas was not filled with the usual holiday fun. There were piercing tears in the form of gifts ordered by my sister before the operation, and joyful cards sent acknowledging the success of the procedure intertwined and mingled with flowers and wishes of sympathy in the darkest of times.

It’s hard for me to imagine the burden of grief her husband and their children, Calum and Ailsa, are going through, a house full of memories filled with little reminders of someone who isn’t around. Grief, this painful loss, is sometimes unbearably unbearable.

Initial autopsy reports were inconclusive, so we have to patiently wait months for further test results, but there may not be a definite cause. Perhaps her body was too exhausted by the onslaught of illness, or she was too weak to recover.

Jenny Crossley

The reality is that the result will not change no matter how many tears you shed.

However, I cling to the optimism of a conversation I had with Jenny shortly before the operation, when she told me what she was most looking forward to when she recovered. It was nice to hear a note of anticipation in her voice, a drop of hope that everything would work out. I will cherish this happy memory and remain delighted that my gift could potentially mean such a huge amount to her, comforted by the fact that I actually did everything in my power to make a difference.

My postoperative cleanliness meant that I was able to attend Jenny’s funeral. A few weeks earlier and I’m not sure if I would have been able to do it. Instead of a joyful family reunion in early January, my brother and mother traveled to Wales to say goodbye to Jenny for the last time. As we drove to Swansea, I couldn’t see anything from the car window but the incessant drizzle and smoke from industrial chimneys blending into the leaden sky.

But it felt right for me to be present at that end point. Jenny, a woman of great faith, at her last church service was filled with insightful discourses on her character from friends who were also shaken by the news. Plain red roses adorned her coffin, just like the ones she held in her hands on her wedding day.

The modern miracle of transplantation, despite all efforts, is not always a settled matter. Despite a tidal wave of good wishes and optimism, this time it didn’t work out. I take comfort in the fact that my kidney did its job, but most of all, I am saddened that our story ended there.

In life, Jenny has always strived to do as much good as possible. I am proud that she allowed our story to be told, and I hope that in some way it will still help raise awareness of living donation. It would be a wonderful legacy to come out of something so terribly sad.

There are currently 400 people in Scotland in need of a kidney transplant. As with any medical procedure, there are risks, but the outcome in this case was exceptionally rare. Living donor kidney transplantation can be planned to avoid or shorten dialysis time and provide a better long-term outcome for the recipient. Living donors do not have to be related; You can donate to friends, colleagues, and altruistic strangers.

The most recent statistics (March 2021) from NHS Blood and Transplant show that 98.9% of recipients who received a live kidney transplant from a related donor continue to have a functioning kidney one year after transplant.

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