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28th Oct, 2021

It's a miracle! - Redditch mum given new lease of life after transplant

A DESPERATELY ill Redditch mum is on the road to recovery thanks to the miracle of paired kidney donation.

“It was like winning the Lottery,” said Stacey Kavanagh who donated her kidney to another patient so her mum Gail, aged 61, could receive one in exchange.

“When mum first fell ill I just remember holding her hand and saying ‘it doesn’t matter Mum, you can have one of mine’ thinking it would be a quick fix,” said Stacey.

“That was six years ago, but thanks to paired exchange Mum is getting better every day.”

The Church Hill family’s world fell apart when, suffering from swollen ankles and headaches, a check up at the Alexandra Hospital found Gail’s blood pressure was through the roof and she was suffering from kidney failure.

“Me and my brother Paul went forward to get tested and we just assumed we would be a match and were devastated when we were told we weren’t,” said Stacey.

It turned out Gail had picked up certain antibodies during pregnancy and although Paul was the nearest match, he was ‘way off scale’ said Stacey.

By 2013 and with Gail facing dialysis four times a week in Kings Norton, the ‘quick fix’ was looking horrifyingly long term.

“My Dad Chris, bless him, would keel over at the sight of a needle but he went off and got himself trained to help mum so she could have the dialysis at home,” added Stacey.

The family then had a meeting with the transplant team at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham where the subject of paired exchange was discussed.

“Paul has a young family and had another on the way so I had all the donor tests and was approved for the pair exchange pool,” said Stacey.

The ‘pool’ is checked every quarter, but after the initial excitement, expectations and disappointments, the family had to put the idea of ever finding a match to the back of their minds and get on with life.

Stacey got married and moved to Dublin, where she works for Standard Life, but plans to start a family were put on hold while Mum was ill.

“They tweaked Mum’s antibodies which widened the pool up a little and then last September we got the call – they had found a match – it felt like we had won the Lottery,” she said.

“Originally there were three families involved, but one of the recipients was not well at all, so we went ahead with just two families.

“The operations happen at the same time, you don’t know who these people are, but you are given the chance to write to them.

“The day of the operation was the weirdest of my life – me and Mum were in beds next to each and she got to see me in recovery before she went down to theatre.”

Gail’s operation was a success and with her kidney function already up to 48 per cent, she is getting better every day.

“They say my other kidney will take six months to fully kick in, but I’m feeling all right, and Mum, she feels like she is in a dream,” said Stacey.

THE Kavanagh family are holding a Quiz Night and raffle in aid of the QE Kidney Patients Association and the Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, which couriered Stacey’s blood.

It’s at The Oast House on Friday, April 20 and there are some fabulous raffle prizes to be won, including a signed by tennis stars Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Tim Henman, donated by Standard Life who sponsor Andy Murray.

Other prizes include a top worn by soap star Michelle Connor, an Emmerdale Studio Experience and much, much more.

For the winning team there’s a £200 One4All voucher.

Entry is £10 per person, maximum four people per team.

Email to submit your team – to make a donation visit

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