Now the couple have handed over another special donation – more than £1,800 to the renal team at The James Cook University Hospital who supported them throughout their treatment.
The Hartlepool couple held a sell-out charity event which was attended by over 230 people – all friends and family of Kevin, Julie and fellow organiser Janine O’Rourke, who donated her half of the total raised to Breast Cancer Care in memory of her sister Mandy, who would have been 51 on the same day as the fundraiser.
“We were overwhelmed by the support we received,” said Julie. “Our initial target was to raise £500 but donations were flooding in and people were so generous - they were purchasing so many raffle tickets we had to run and get more books on the night!”
Taxi driver Kevin, 53, has had renal failure twice in the last 15 years. His mum Edie donated her kidney in 2003 and then Julie, 53, his wife of 27 years, also became a living donor in May 2017.
“Dr David Reaich and his team have been amazing from the day I was referred,” said Kevin. “We can never repay the renal team for their personalised care. But we wanted to give back to those that had helped us in hope that our contribution will help others.”
Julie, a retail recruitment and induction coordinator, said she had many years to think about donation due to Kevin’s previous history:
“I was tested the first time but his Mam was better matched. She was amazing and inspirational.
“I didn’t feel scared or worried, although of course we were concerned about our family Jack and Melissa who had to cope with both parents having an operation at the same time.
“Kevin has always been my rock and I wanted to make him feel well again. Now I look at him every day and feel proud of his determination and positivity, even when he felt poorly. I believe that’s a big part of our recovery, a positive mind.
“We are enjoying life to the full and are looking forward to our first holiday abroad since the operation on our ‘kidversary’!”
And her message to others considering becoming a living donor?
“Do it! I didn’t have to think twice but going through a timely process means you have support at every step of the way.
“Our transplant specialist nurse was amazing supporting us before and after the operation. It’s an amazing thing to do and I feel proud to have been able to do this.”
Alison Callaway, Transplant Specialist Nurse added: “This is an immense achievement and we want to thank everyone involved for all their hard work. Every penny raised helps us enhance patient comfort on the unit.”
Gift of life - kidney donation
KIDNEY disease can affect people at any age and has many different causes.
A small number of people with kidney disease develop kidney failure and need dialysis or kidney transplantation. Medical evidence shows people survive longer and feel better if they have a kidney transplant sooner rather than later.
There are two ways a kidney becomes available for transplant. The most common is when someone dies and their kidneys are healthy they can be donated to someone in need of a transplant. The other is when a living person chooses to donate a kidney to a relative or friend, or as a gift of life to someone they do not know.
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s living kidney donor team of dedicated doctors and nurses help prepare patients for donation and transplantation.
People needing a kidney transplant are asked to talk to their friends and relatives about living kidney donation, and anyone considering donation then talks to a Specialist Transplant Nurse.
Not everyone can be a kidney donor; some people are unable to donate due to incompatibility at blood group and tissue matching or medical complications.
If you have a friend or relative affected by kidney disease and would like to know more about living kidney donation please contact Alison Callaway, Transplant Specialist Nurse on 01642 854732. You can also find more information at www.organdonation.nhs.uk.