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Thursday 9 March 2023
In May 2022, Michele Priede made the brave decision to become a kidney donor for her son, Cain Baker.
Michele has worked at Austin Health for 10 years, and currently works on Ward 9 at the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital. She had mentally prepared for the day that she may have to become a kidney donor for Cain, who had “bad kidneys” from birth.
Cain was born with Vesicoureteral Reflux (VUR), a condition in which urine flows backwards from the bladder up the ureters, the tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder. At just six-months old, Cain underwent a ureteral reimplantation, an operation to detach and re‐join the ureters to the bladder.
“The operation that I had as a baby, we all thought that I was fine,” says Cain.
It wasn’t until a routine doctor’s visit at 27 that Cain received the alarming news that his kidney function had dropped to 31 per cent.
“All I did was get a check-up and blood test. As far as I was concerned, I was fine. I was just living life like normal.”
Cain was referred to a specialist, where he was told that his kidney function would unfortunately continue to decline. Five years later, they had dropped to 12 per cent.
“We were all shocked. My daughter was only a year old when I found out, and my son was pretty young. My escape from my own head was work. I’d just started my own plumbing business while working full-time as a project manager and estimator, so I put 100 per cent of my energy into work and my kids.”
Cain was transferred to a transplant clinic, and within a year he was admitted for a kidney transplant, with his mother by his side as his living kidney donor.
Many living kidney donors are biological relatives, such as a parent, with a close blood and tissue match that reduces the risk of rejection of the organ.
Living Donor Coordinator, Megan Sandiford says that living donor kidney transplantation provides the best transplant outcomes and in many cases it can be performed before the recipient needs to start dialysis which has additional benefits.
“This was the case for Cain, he was fortunate that Michele was a good match, her living donor workup deemed her suitable to donate and he was able to receive his transplant without needing any dialysis,” says Megan.
Michele put her hand up straight away when she found out they were a perfect match.
“Mum’s pretty tough. She didn’t question it, and she wouldn’t let anyone else do it. My wife was potentially going to do it, but my mum just wouldn’t let that happen,” says Cain.
The kidney transplant was successful, and Michele and Cain are both recovering exceptionally well. Cain jumped back into work the second he could, and was back working full-time three months post-transplant.
“I got the transplant in May, and then in November I was doing an eight-week fitness challenge. After surgery, you’re pretty much back up and going as soon as your scars heal. I’m now 10 months out and I’m just living a normal life,” says Cain.
Michele says she is feeling amazing. She has always had a close bond with her three sons, but says that this has just made them closer.
“The staff were brilliant. Megan was amazing, the surgeons, the support from Ward 9. I’m a nurse assistant, and I felt so comfortable there as a patient. I knew I was in good hands,” says Michele.
Cain adds: “Thank you to the whole team at Austin, from the nurses to the transplant team, I could not fault anything that they did, they were extremely great.”