‘It’s no biggy’ - Bury St Edmunds barber gives a kidney to give his little sister life
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
A barber has given his younger sister the gift of life by donating a kidney - 22 years after their mum did the same thing.
Lynn Charles, 45, from Mildenhall, says she can never thank her big brother Adie Doe enough after he gave up a kidney to give her more years with her family.
Adie, 48, a well-known Bury St Edmunds barber, said his sister, a customer services advisor with Forest Heath District Council, was the “hero” - not him - adding it was “just a big brother thing to do”.
Lynn, mum to Bella, six, and Luke, 21, also had a kidney transplant operation at the age of 23 - with the organ donated by her mum Sandra - after she became unwell and it emerged she had been born with only one working kidney, and that was failing.
Adie, of Adie’s barber shop in St Andrew’s Street North, was part of a three-way exchange with three donors and three recipients, so while Lynn’s new kidney didn’t come from Adie, she says her transplant operation wouldn’t have been possible without him.
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Lynn, who is now recovering at home following successful surgery, said: “I said ‘a thank you will never be enough’ and he says he ‘never wants a thank you, just a healthy sister’.
“I will never be able to thank him enough. We were always close, but this has just cemented our bond.”
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She added: “I have a young family and the thought of not being there for my girl and son is unbearable.”
Adie, dad to Liam, 21, and Jasmine, 19, said: “I’ve always been close to my sister and I’m family-orientated. If I could help, I would help.”
Her husband Joe and a cousin were also tested - and even more had offered - but as none of the three were an exact match, they got put into the pooling scheme.
“That system didn’t exist 20 years ago. That system is amazing and allows so many more transplants to happen,” she said.
“Just to be tested - it’s overwhelming the kindness of people. They want me to have a normal family life and Luke and Bella to have a mum.
“Bella is looking forward to me getting back on the trampoline, going on holiday.”
She said today a living donor kidney could function for about 20 years, whereas when she had her first transplant the expectation was about 15 years - which she surpassed by seven.
Lynn, who doesn’t know who her donor is, said she became pregnant with son Luke shortly after her first kidney transplant and he was born at only 26 weeks because her new organ had not yet settled in her body.
On the challenges life has thrown at her, she said: “Like everyone says, I just take it in my stride. You either just get on with it or fall apart and having a family this time around I just carry on as normal.”
Lynn said friends, the community and her employer had been so supportive, adding: “It’s not until something like this happens you realise how kind people are.”
Adie, who is married to Claire, said being a kidney donor had only been a positive experience for him.
“It’s a phenomenal thing to do. I would encourage everybody to do it to be honest.
“It’s a couple of months out of your life - it’s nothing really compared to 20 plus years of having a normal life.
Background on kidney transplants - source NHS
• The NHS website says the main role of the kidneys is to filter waste products from the blood and convert them to urine.
If the kidneys lose this ability, waste products can build up, which is potentially life-threatening.
• While dialysis can partially replicate the functions of the kidney, it can be inconvenient and time-consuming so a kidney transplant is the treatment of choice for kidney failure whenever possible.
• It is possible to donate a kidney while you’re alive because you only need one kidney to survive, which is known as a living donation.
• People who want to be considered as a kidney donor are carefully tested to ensure they are a suitable donor and are fit for the operation to remove a kidney.
• Ideally, living donations will come from a close relative because they are more likely to share the same tissue type and blood group as the recipient, which reduces the risk of the body rejecting the kidney.
• Kidney donations are also possible from people who have recently died, which is known as deceased kidney donation.
Adie, who won’t be back at work full-time for at least a couple of months, said his customers had been “immense” in their support and patience.
The barber, who has recently given his 50th blood donation, has been encouraging friends and family to give blood while he has been unable to and said it was a “lovely gesture” that so many people had.
For more information on donating blood or becoming an organ donor see here.