Oncologist Dr. Belinda Yeoh and a patient

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“I’m the luckiest man alive”

After receiving a kidney transplant just weeks ago, Brendan Elliot, says he’s the luckiest man alive to be given a second chance at life.

Today is World Kidney Day - roughly 850 million people worldwide are estimate to have kidney diseases due to various causes. Read a personal story from our patient, Brendan Elliot, who received his kidney transplant only a few weeks ago.

13 March 2019

My story starts when I was young. Since I was about sixteen or seventeen, I lived with one kidney, which worked around 80 per cent. Over the next 30 years that kidney slowly deteriorated. My doctor tried to slow the process, but around 2014 we noticed the function getting rather low. It was August 2016 when my doctor passed me some information about the pre-transplant information session at Austin Health. I knew the time had come.

The next three years leading up to my transplant were tough. I got sicker and sicker as my function got lower and lower. It affected my mental state, it affected my wife and my children, my siblings and my mother. I had a brave face. I was scared. Mainly that I would not make it and I would leave my wife and my beautiful two boys alone.

As soon as I broke the news to my family my incredible sister, Vanessa, put her hand up to donate. I had a few others offer too. This is one reason I now dub myself ‘the luckiest man alive’. It’s my reminder to not take a happy, healthy life for granted.

We later discovered that she was only a 50/50 match which wasn’t optimum, but heard of an exchange program to get a better match so we signed up. Three months later I got the call just before Christmas 2018, and my transplant was to happen a month later. So in January I would begin my new life.

At around 7pm that day, the nurses advised me it was time to have my prep shower and wash with the special soap. I was excited. I was scared. Especially as my youngest 10-year-old son Atticus made a final lunge at me and started crying. I held him and told him, ‘it’s ok, daddy is going to be better soon, and we can do far more than we ever have together’.

As I gritted my teeth and got excited for my future, I watched my family looking terrified as I was wheeled off. Natural I suppose. 

I woke up in recovery. The instant I opened my eyes, I felt like a heavy ‘brain mist’ I’d had for as long as I could recall, had been lifted. I was sore, and dazed, but I felt incredible from the first second.

Incredibly, my blood levels were normal after 12-hour surgery. As normal as a healthy person. The kidney was functioning at over 90 per cent. It was nothing short of a miracle.

When Vanessa came to visit me, I told her the news. She cried. The luckiest man alive had even more reason to celebrate.

Although still sore and tired from recovery I am working a little, back to cooking my boys their favourite meals and baking them cookies for their lunch.

The stress of life waiting for my transplant and the uncertainty is gone. It is like our family can resume some sort of normality.

I seriously cannot believe how lucky I was to find the kidney we did, at the time we did, and to have been looked after so well by so many incredible people in the public health system.

The nurses of 7 North were amazing and shared my excitement and joy of the progress. They really helped me with my recovery and got me out of hospital quite quickly. It’s been almost six weeks now and I still feel incredible. My function is still great and averaging around the high 80’s.

As mentioned, I feel like I have been struck by a miracle and I intend to remind myself of this as often as possible. To be given a second chance, I truly am the luckiest man alive.

To find out more information about World Kidney Day visit https://worldkidneyday.org. Did you know it takes less than a minute to register as an organ donor? Sign up today at https://donatelife.gov.au