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“I started thinking that actually I was going to lose him.” Daniel Arthur’s moving account of saving his son’s life.
What a year 2019 was for me and my son Eugene. I donated my kidney to him live on television!
Eugene had been poorly for some time. He first became unwell in 2009 and was diagnosed with lupus, an auto-immune disease where your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy parts of your body. Eugene was in his mid-twenties at the time and just starting out in his career.
His lupus was treated using a trial of medications; however, all the while Eugene’s kidney function was declining without him realising.
A routine test found high levels of creatinine in Eugene’s blood. Creatinine is a waste product that comes from normal wear and tear on muscles in the body. Everyone has it, though healthy kidneys filter it out for us. He still looked well and was continuing to work, though further investigations found that Eugene’s kidney function had dropped to just 15 per cent. When Eugene told us how unwell he was, it was such a shock and a huge panic for the family.
Eugene had to begin dialysis and was put onto the transplant waiting list. Dialysis was hard for Eugene; it impacted every part of his life. He would go to bed with the dialysis machine on and would wake in the morning with more water in his tummy. I started panicking, I started thinking that actually I was going to lose him. I knew I had to offer to help. I told him to leave the burden to me and I would care for him.
I put myself forward as a potential donor for Eugene. Eugene did not want me to risk surgery, however we were told that as a black patient his wait for a transplant could be quite long. We could not risk waiting and Eugene becoming too unwell for a transplant.
(Picture: Arthur, right, donated kidney to his son, Eugene)
Sure, there were risks, but the decision to donate was a no brainer. I responded to the need to donate out of a father’s love for his son and the need to protect him. I wanted to donate so Eugene may live long and live life in full, with a better lifestyle.
Our surgery was scheduled for April 2019. When we were approached about donating live on television as part of Channel Five’s Operation Live programme, I did not hesitate to agree. I knew it was important for us to raise awareness among our communities.
In the Black, Asian, mixed race and minority ethnic communities we hesitate when it comes to organ donation. However, I think if you see the benefit of it and understand that you can live a healthy life with one kidney, donating is a commendable deed.
By the time of the donation Eugene’s kidney function had dropped to just six per cent. I remember on the day of the donation he was nervous about the transplant but really hopeful for it as well. He wanted to get back to the life he had lived before, not one tied to the dialysis machine. I told Eugene everything would be ok; he was in the best hands; life was going to get better. We would get our family life back, he wouldn’t be tired or short of breath, he could go on holiday again.
He tells me I gave life to him for a second time, just this time through my kidney!
Anyone watching on TV would have seen that my kidney was removed first, in a separate room. Then, whilst I was resting, Eugene was taken down to the operating theatre. Thankfully the surgery went well, the kidney functioned immediately.
Life is a precious thing. My children and my grandchildren, we enjoy life and we put life on a pedestal. Eugene now has his quality of life back. He tells me I gave life to him for a second time, just this time through my kidney!
I recovered quickly and do not regret my decision to donate for a second. To see the difference in Eugene was fantastic. He was able to return to work and then he became a father again just before Christmas 2019, bringing the perfect end to a year we’ll never forget!
Eugene and Daniel started a charity FASKT. The charity aims to educate and raise awareness around kidney disease and organ donation. It also encourages families to start the conversation around the importance of organ donation, and to recruit potential donors for those who are in need of an organ transplant.
To learn more about organ donation, visit our website https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/.
Celebrating the inspirational people who have transformed the lives of others through living organ donation.