Spencer's Gift To His "Bro", Dave
I have always said that if I could ever help my bro (that's how we see each other - as brothers) I would.
When Dave's health was slowly deteriorating I spoke with my wife about what I wanted to do, then contacted Dave’s transplant coordinator to put myself forward for donation without him knowing. After a some tests I was given the good news that I was a match to donate and the process began.
For me it was a very easy decision. The reason I did what I did was to have my bro here with me; I didn't want to lose him. All through my comprehensive testing and build-up to our operation I was totally chilled and un-fazed by it all. Many friends, family and work colleagues commented on how relaxed I was about it all; even the surgeon commented that I was very laidback.
The surgery was done by key hole. It was not painful in any way; a bit uncomfortable perhaps, but that was because of where the main scar was (like a Caesarian scar).
I was only in hospital for four days. My recuperation was six weeks, mainly due to the nature of the job I do, which is manual work; they were concerned about a possible hernia. But my recovery was fine and in the whole painless.
I have been referred to as a ‘Hero’ but I don't like that as I’m far from it. I just did what I wanted to do to make sure my best mate lived a healthy life, and for his family to have him for a lot longer too.
Since having the transplant he and his wife have gone on to have a baby daughter; we all joke and say that, technically, she’s half mine! Without my kidney she wouldn’t be here and nor would he!
We are closer now than before, if that is at all possible. We speak most days and see each other regularly. It’s great for us all to be able to do the things we do now that he is so much healthier.
I was diagnosed with acute kidney failure in late 1997 and was told I would need a transplant. I was immediately put on to Hemodialysis. It all happened very quickly and was a huge shock, but I was very lucky to receive a kidney transplant in March 1998, from a deceased donor.
Around 2009 the kidney started to deteriorate, but for the next four years I managed to avoid dialysis and carry on with life as I was dealing with it relatively well. In late 2012 my consultant advised that I should go on the transplant list again as the kidney was continuing to fail. I obviously explained this to all my family and close friends, including my best mate Spence who I have known for over 20 years - better known as ‘my bruv’. This is something that we have called each other for many years as we have always been so close and just like brothers.
One day Spence came to visit me at work and we were just having a cup of tea when his phone went. He stepped outside to take the call and when he returned he told me it was the hospital; I was worried and asked what was wrong! He explained that it was the transplant nurse from my hospital and said that he had been to get tested to see if he was a match for me which, unbelievably, he was! I was in complete shock and overtaken by emotion that he would even get tested for me, let alone be a match. We both got very emotional and had a huge ‘man’ hug.
The next few months (almost a year), felt like a lifetime and was full of testing for both of us to ensure we were fit enough for the operation. Spence had a setback due to something coming up from one of the tests which delayed the whole process; then I got pneumonia due to my failing immune system and things were delayed again. At times it felt like the operation wasn’t going to happen. We would both go with each other for all the tests, even if it was just to keep each other company! Spence always remained positive and never showed any sign of nervousness throughout the whole process right up to when he was being taken to the operating theatre on the day of the operation. He is a true hero to me and my family.
It was a huge relief to us both when we finally got the green light for the operation. The day before the operation we went into hospital and had some final tests and then spent the afternoon together, chatting as though it was a normal day. That night our partners joined us and we went out for a meal; it was a little surreal bearing in mind what we were both going to go through the next day.
The day finally came and they came for Spence early. He made a joke of going for a wee for the last time with both kidneys, then we hugged before he went off to theatre. The next couple of hours felt like a lifetime as I waited with Kerri (Spence's wife) and my partner Shari, but finally they came for me and reassured us that everything with Spence was okay. It was a huge relief to know my best mate was okay, especially knowing that what he was going through was all for me. As I walked into the theatre I passed a closed door on my left and they told me that my bruv was in there. I felt very emotional.
When I woke up Spence was in still in recovery opposite me. We both raised our heads and gave each other a thumbs up. Another emotional moment!
The next few days we both recovered in hospital. Spence was discharged after three days which was incredible and he was fighting fit, albeit a little sore. I was discharged after five days but even during those two days I was in hospital without him he still came up to see me, even after what he had just been through himself.
Since the operation we have both been really well - long may it continue. I have since had a baby daughter which was just amazing and wouldn’t have happened without the most amazing gift from my best mate - 'My bruv'. Spence is just an amazing man. He gave me the gift of live and never thought twice about it. He never showed any signs of being nervous throughout the whole process from start to finish; all he wanted to do was help me. He is truly an inspiration and I hope our story will help others.