Milestone living kidney donation

A major milestone in living kidney donation history was reached recently, with the thousandth non-directed altruistic living kidney donation taking place at University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust.

Non-directed living kidney donation is when someone volunteers to give a kidney to a person they don’t know who is waiting for a transplant.

Neil CheethamFittingly, this landmark moment happened just before World Kidney Day last year, a global awareness day focused on kidney health.

The thousandth non-directed kidney donor was Neil Cheetham, 59, from Devon.

“I had a close friend who needed a kidney transplant,” says Neil. “Ultimately, sadly, he was unable to receive a kidney, but it made me realise that there are many people whose life could be transformed by living donation.

“I met a local man who had already donated a kidney to a stranger many years ago and he helped to guide me through the process.

(Picture: Neil Cheetham, 59, gave the thousandth non-directed kidney donation)

“I have no regrets at all. I’m as healthy as ever, regularly cycling, walking, and climbing. Just six months after the donation I visited Norway to climb there.

“It feels good to have been able to help someone in need.”

Any healthy adult can volunteer to be assessed as a living donor and a kidney from a living donor is the very best treatment option for most people with kidney disease.

The volunteer donor goes through a thorough assessment over several months to ensure they are fit and healthy and that the risk to them is as low as possible. If approved, they are matched with a suitable recipient from the transplant waiting list, or they can also join the UK Living Kidney Sharing Scheme which enables one non-directed donor to potentially 'trigger' up to three transplants.

Another significant moment to celebrate within living kidney donation came in January, with the launch of the Robert Dangoor Living Kidney Donor Programme. The programme will be led by charities Kidney Research UK and Give a Kidney, and aims to raise awareness of living kidney donation, as well as providing support and guidance to people through the process of donation.

The programme was made possible thanks to businessman and philanthropist David Dangoor CBE, who donated his kidney to his brother, Robert, in 2019.

Robert and David Dangoor
David Dangoor (right) donated his kidney to his brother, Robert (left), in 2019

Bob Wiggins, Chair of Give a Kidney, says: “There are currently more than 5,500 people in the UK in need of a kidney so we're encouraging everyone to consider if you could be a living donor. Many people still don't know that any healthy adult can volunteer as a living donor.

“Thanks to these 1,000 donors, countless lives have been changed for the better. Not only that, but together this group has already saved the NHS millions of pounds over the cost of keeping the recipients on dialysis treatment.”

Take your first step, learn more about being a living donor. Visit today.