Transplant success story offers hope

JUST over 25 years ago, Andrew Lines was living half a life.Both his kidneys had been removed, he couldn't work or travel and he had to endure being hooked up to a dialysis machine for 24 hours a week.

JUST over 25 years ago, Andrew Lines was living half a life.

Both his kidneys had been removed, he couldn't work or travel and he had to endure being hooked up to a dialysis machine for 24 hours a week.

But Mr Lines never gave up hope and, when his brother donated a kidney to him in the early summer of 1979, his life was turned around.

Now, a quarter of a century later, the 49-year-old is celebrating the 25th anniversary of his transplant, which was one of the first involving a live donor.


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And he told the EADT that he wanted his story to give hope to others, as well as calling for more people to consider registering as potential donors.

"The average person just doesn't think about being a donor," he said. "You think it's something that will only ever happen to someone else – but it could be a loved one of yours that needs a transplant.

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"People need to be aware of the difference that they can make – it can change somebody's life for ever."

Mr Lines, who lives in Beccles with wife Cheryl, was born with just one functioning kidney and battled illness throughout childhood.

He was told that it was inevitable his remaining kidney would fail, and in 1977, the prediction began to come true.

"It was a slow decline rather than a dramatic turn of events," he said. "I kind of got weaker and less able to do things.

"I left college and rested for a summer before getting a job – but then the kidney went and I had to go on dialysis.

"It was very boring and such a long process. I would arrive at the hospital for my treatment with the commuters going to work, and head home with them as well.

"I couldn't work and it was very restrictive – I couldn't even travel very far. Fortunately, my brother, Richard, said straight away that if he could donate me a kidney then he would."

And so the operation that would change Mr Lines' life took place at Guy's Hospital in London, on May 21, 1979.

"I felt better instantly after the operation," he said. "I was suddenly able to function properly, I felt extraordinarily stronger and my colour improved.

"The transplant opened up my life completely – for the first time in my life, I felt well."

Despite the fact that the average life of a transplanted kidney is around 12 years, Mr Lines, who works at Hamleys in London, is still going strong 25 years after the operation.

"It was successful right from the start," he said. "It never occurred to me that it wouldn't work and I feel incredibly lucky, but I've always been very positive about it.

"Obviously, I'm very grateful to my brother. I can't thank him enough for what he did – it was an incredibly selfless act."

Mr Lines, a keen sportsman since his transplant, urged those battling kidney problems to continue fighting.

"I would say to people on dialysis at the moment that they have to stay positive, both for themselves and their family.

"There's always light at the end of the tunnel – the quality of life can be so good, and you just don't realise that until it happens to you.

"I just want to give people hope, because it is so easy to give up."

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