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Cornish couple donate kidneys to save son's life

Cornish couple donate kidneys to save son's life

Published by Emma Carton at 9:21am 24th January 2020. (Updated at 9:25am 24th January 2020)

A Cornish patient, diagnosed with severe kidney failure, reveals how an organ donor saved his life.

Peter Lunn from St Austell went on the transplant list for a kidney AND a pancreas.

His condition was so bad, he had to close his business as a landscape gardener.

"It was just terrifying, absolutely terrifying"

A couple who donated kidneys when their son suffered renal failure TWICE have also shared their story.

It is to support a Live Donation Week being run by a new specialist nurse at the Royal Cornwall Hospital.

Scroll down to read their stories and find out how you can help by becoming a live kidney donor.

Being donors - the Nicholls' Story:

Organ Donors - The Nicholls
A couple from Cornwall have revealed how they both donated kidneys to save their son's life. Photo: The Nicholls' Family


A couple from Devoran near Truro have shared their family's emotional story of being organ donors.

Thelma Nicholls' husband gave their son a kidney transplant when he was taken ill 12 years ago.

However, at 40-years-old, just before Christmas 2018, Richard, suffered renal failure again.

That was when mum Thelma stepped forward to be tested to see if she could help him.

She says it was scary to wonder if she could be a donor, but says the tests were not invasive and only took two days.

"The biggest thing was worrying whether it would all happen in time for our son to be able to have a kidney.

"But as a mum, it is just something you want to be able to do to help your child and luckily I could.

"It's just so lucky that I was a match and I was fit enough and well enough to be able to do it".

Thelma Nicholls

Organ Donor Thelma Nicholls
The Nicholls' family from Devoran near Truro are among those supporting a Live Donation Week at Treliske. Photo: The Nicholls' Family


Needing a donor - Peter's Story:

Peter Lunn from St Austell was diagnosed with end-stage kidney failure in 2017.

He was put on the transplant list very quickly, after ending up on dialysis in the October.

His condition was so bad, he was forced to close his business as a landscape gardener.

He received two calls to go up to Oxford for surgery but, on both occasions, he was a 'back-up' patient and did not have the operation.

However, after a third call as a primary patient, he underwent a simultaneous kidney pancreas transplant in January 2018.

"I went from being able to work an eight-hour a day or a ten-hour day in the summer, to barely being able to work two hours.

"It just went downhill so quickly that it was just terrifying, absolutely terrifying".

Peter Lunn

What can I do to help?

organ donation/transplant
An organ donation week run by a new specialist nurse at Treliske is urging everyone to consider being a live donor to help save lives


Treliske is running a special Live Donation Week, to encourage people to sign up to be donors.

The scheme was launched by the hospital's Living Donor Transplant Special Nurse.

Angela Fordham received a six-month secondment to the Royal Cornwall Hospital to promote live donation.

There are currently around 30 people on the waiting list for a donor in Cornwall.

Last year, they had 24 kidney transplants of which eight came from live donors.

"A lot of people never hear about organ donation, or live donation, unless they know somebody who's got renal failure. It's just not something that's out in the media. 

"People hear about the organ donation register for deceased donors, but they don't realise they can come forward and donate a kidney.

"You don't even need to know someone who needs a kidney. You can come forward and donate a kidney altruistically and it will be matched to the most suitable recipient wherever they are in the country.

"What normally happens is that if we've got patients who have got chronic kidney disease, the consultants will discuss with them whether they want a transplant or whether they're suitable for a transplant.

"At that point, normally, they will talk to their friends and family and see if anyone would be interested in coming forward to donate them a kidney.

"If they are, they're given my contact details and they can contact me at the hospital, either by phone or by email.

"We get them in, do a thorough health questionnaire and a lot of screening - we do blood tests and ECGs and ultrasound scans and things, just to make sure the person is as fit and healthy as they can be and actually have two functioning kidneys.

"They get a really good thorough work-up and go to Derriford where the surgery actually takes place".

Angela Fordham

If you want to consider being a kidney donor, you can contact Angela via email at rcht.livingdonor@nhs.net or by calling 01872 252292.

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