'It's given me back my life': Focus on kidney donation on World Kidney Day

Kirsty Clarke from Clare is urging people to have conversations about kidney donation. Today is World Kidney Day

Kirsty Clarke from Clare is urging people to have conversations about kidney donation. Today is World Kidney Day - Credit: Kirsty Clarke

A kidney recipient is urging people to have conversations about organ donation after a transplant operation saved her life.

Kirsty Clarke from Clare in west Suffolk was in her mid-30s when she received the shocking news she had kidney disease.

The illness progressed and her health deteriorated, leaving her in desperate need of a transplant. 

Kirsty, who underwent the operation in January 2021, said: "It's given me back my life and there's no two ways about that."

On World Kidney Day today, NHS Blood and Transplant said more than 4,600 people - including 23 patients in Suffolk - are waiting for a kidney transplant, and this figure is expected to rise.

It is calling on everyone in Suffolk to share their organ donation decision and also take a moment to consider living kidney donation, which is when people can donate a kidney in life.

Kirsty Clarke, 41, underwent an organ transplant operation in January 2021 that saved her life

Kirsty Clarke, 41, underwent an organ transplant operation in January 2021 that saved her life - Credit: Kirsty Clarke

Kirsty, 41, who works for the Activity Alliance charity, said: "It's having these conversations and understanding the possibilities.

"I think World Kidney Day helps that in many ways because first of all we are having a conversation about kidneys.

"These are really important organs that until something goes wrong you don't acknowledge what they do to keep you alive, and it's only then you think 'oh my God, I need another one, where do I get it from? What do I do?'"

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She said kidney disease could genuinely happen to anyone at any time "so having a conversation about whether you could donate could change someone's life".

She said she felt "a million times better" following her kidney transplant operation, adding: "I have got me back."

NHS Blood and Transplant said people can donate a kidney in life to a particular individual, such as a relative, or choose to donate anonymously where their kidney will either go to a high priority patient on the transplant list or create a chain of transplants via the UK living kidney sharing scheme.

Kirsty Clarke with her mum, dad and brother

Kirsty Clarke with her mum, dad and brother - Credit: Kirsty Clarke

Living donation is not for everyone and some people are not suitable donors, so the majority of kidney patients - like Kirsty - will still be saved by a deceased organ donor. 

Even though the law around organ donation has now changed to an opt-out system across England, Wales, and Scotland, many people are still not aware that families will still always be consulted before organ donation goes ahead.

  • For more information or to register your organ donation decision visit the website or call 0300 123 23 23. NHS app users can also use the service to record, check or update their organ donation decision.