A Linwood man who donated a kidney to save a stranger’s life has shared his story ahead of World Kidney Day tomorrow.
Taxi driver and Kickboxing coach Paul Millar, 47, made the decision to become an altruistic donor in 2019. Despite not knowing anyone who needed a kidney transplant, a news story prompted him to register his interest online.
The surgery went ahead in October 2019, and Paul was back to work only two weeks later.
Living kidney donation plays a vital role in increasing donation and transplantation rates in Scotland, with a kidney from a living donor generally offering the best outcomes for patients in need of a transplant.
There are two routes to living kidney donation – directed donation where a friend, relative or partner donates to a loved one, or non-directed altruistic donation which involves a person donating to a stranger. Since 2009, over 100 people in Scotland have made the decision to donate one of their kidneys altruistically.
Through raising awareness that living donation is an option, the hope is that more patients living with kidney failure can avoid or reduce the time they have to spend on dialysis, and have a better quality of life.
Talking about the process, Paul said: “I didn’t realise you could do altruistic donations until I watched a story on the news one night about someone meeting their donor for the first time. I’d always thought it was something you could only do for family, so I started to look into it and made the call in January 2019.
Photo: Act of kindness: Taxi Driver and Kickboxing coach Paul Millar
“There are a lot of tests involved, different scans, blood tests etc., with about a month in between each one. I kept thinking each test might be the last one if they found an issue, but overall it was a smooth process.
“There are quarterly runs for the UK Living Kidney Sharing Scheme, and I just missed the July one, so was put into the next run, and went on to donate in October 2019.
“Recovery was much better than I anticipated, you are definitely prepared for what it could be like. As I’m a taxi driver, and also a kickboxing coach, they told me to expect it’d be six weeks before I was back driving, and 12 weeks before I was back to work. I was actually back driving within the week, back to work within two and back coaching within four weeks. I didn’t get a chance to watch all the box sets I’d dug out!
“I got a card from the recipient, a teacher with two young kids, and it was fantastic to hear that she was doing well. Her dad also donated a kidney into the scheme, so we were able to set off a chain of three people receiving a transplant. It was really great to know that you can do something to start that chain off.”
Speaking about his motivations, Paul added: “I jumped at the chance to help someone. I’m quite keen to live by example and do the right thing in life. The more I read into it, the more I realised the benefits of it, and obviously you can only do it once in your life, so I thought why not.
“I would encourage anyone who’s thinking about it to go for it, it’s been nothing but positive for me. You’re able to help someone else, and get a wee sense of achievement. I’m fully back to health and my health has never been an issue since. Taking just a few weeks out of your life to change someone else’s, I’d definitely recommend it to anyone.”
Jen Lumsdaine, Lead Nurse, Living Donation Scotland said: “This story demonstrates how living donation can transform the life of someone living with kidney failure. A person can lead a completely normal life with one kidney, and anyone can volunteer to find out more about donating, but it must be something they choose to do and feel comfortable doing.
“Living donation is an exceptional gift, and although Scotland has an opt out system of organ and tissue donation, living kidney donation continues to play a vital part in improving transplant numbers, so more lives can be saved and transformed.”
To find out more about living donation visit www.livingdonationscotland.org.