Lynn Smith discovered that she had kidney failure two years after giving birth to her now 17-year-old daughter, Erin. Five years later she had a kidney transplant, a live donation from her nephew David, and it appeared that the future was bright.
However, it was not quite as straight forward as that. Complications set in and it appeared as though her body was rejecting the organ. This went on for almost seven weeks.
Eventually though, due to the persistence, experience and skill of the Organ Transplant Team at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, they found the source of the issue which turned out to be that Lynn was allergic to the post-transplant medication. Now, 10 years since transplant, Lynn thanks the invaluable staff – as well as her nephew who donated the organ to her – for the part that they’ve played in keeping her alive.
In 2005, Lynn was working as a Paralegal while pregnant with Erin. She had worked hard to build her career and looked forward to returning to work as a new mum after some special time on maternity leave with her daughter. However, shortly after Erin was born, Lynn could not shake the feeling of exhaustion. She knew that it was more than new-mum fatigue.
Lynn returned to work but really struggled to get by. After medical tests, it was discovered that Lynn had kidney failure. Lynn was given steroids to improve her kidney function, however, with a toddler and home to look after, her exhaustion didn’t let up and she had to give up the job she had worked so hard for.
“The diagnosis was the strangest part. Initially, I was happy as having no reason for feeling that awful was having a huge impact on my mental health. In addition to that, I was hopeful that there would be a medical path to help me feel better. Within the hour, the reality hit, and the relief was short lived,” said Lynn.
Lynn went on to have five years of treatment and her kidney function improved but eventually, it was time to look at a transplant. Lynn’s family were tested to see if they could be donors and it was decided that her nephew (31 at time of surgery), would give Lynn his kidney.
Post-transplant, and following her initial complications, Lynn steadily made progress, and she was finally able to leave hospital once doctors had stabilised her new medication. Lynn felt hopeful knowing that she was leaving with a working kidney.
Over the past 10 years, Lynn has attended the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital every month to receive her treatment. Last week, she catered an event for the team to express her thanks.
“I feel like I owe the Renal Team so much. These are the people that have kept me going over the past decade. This team has a specialist way of approaching things that I can’t explain, and their care is fantastic. To them, they are just doing their job but, to me, it is everything. I don’t know where I would be without them.
“Also, I can’t thank the transplant team enough for being so persistent to reach a solution for my medication. After my surgery, I told myself that I just had to get to a year, and then it was two years, and then five. Reaching 10 years feels amazing and it is something that I will never take for granted.
“Of course, my biggest thank you goes to my nephew for donating his organ to me. There is nothing that I could ever give him to express my gratitude. Live donation is brave and selfless. It gives life,” said Lynn.
Monday 18th September to Sunday 23rd September 2023 is Organ and Tissue Donation Week. People can register their donation decision and find out more at www.organdonation.scot or by calling 0300 123 2323.
Anyone considering a live organ donation to a family member, friend or stranger can visit Living donation | Organ Donation Scotland for more information.