While gardening gloves and golf balls will be typical presents in thousands of homes this Father's Day, one special group of dads can thank their children for something far more valuable - the gift of life.

Figures from NHS UK Transplant show that at least 125 children - 74 sons and 51 daughters - have donated a kidney to save their dad since the first recorded child-to-father transplant in 1982.

All the transplants took place with the children as adults. Only children over the age of 18 are considered as living donors. In 2007/08, the age range of children making a donation to their parents was 19 to 48.

So far this year, 10 children have given their father a new lease of life by donating one of their kidneys, including 30-year-old Claire Joseph from Bradford, who came forward as a donor after her dad Peter's kidneys failed. The transplant took place on April 4 at St James's Hospital in Leeds.

Peter's kidneys began to fail three years ago due to his high blood pressure and he was placed on the transplant list. After he collapsed at work, Claire decided to offer him one of her kidneys. The 52-year-old was on dialysis three times a week for up to six hours and was often off work because he felt so tired and poorly.

Claire said: "I decided to offer him one of my kidneys because I have two sons and I just wanted their granddad to be around for them, particularly the youngest.

"Dad was in pain all the time. It was going to be really hard for him to find a match because of our ethnic background. The worst thing that shocked me was when I received a call one day saying that he had collapsed at work and was going to the hospital."

Claire and younger sister Louise underwent tests and both were a suitable match, but Claire was selected to donate because she lives at home with her parents in Bradford while her sister is in London.

"I felt it was important to do something. I did not want to see him keep going to hospital until things went terribly wrong," added Claire.

Peter is still recovering from the surgery but is hoping to go back to work at his job as a metalworking moulder in a local foundry.

He said: "I was surprised when Claire made her offer because I did not ask for anything. I did not want her to do it because I have had my time but she insisted. It was really very nice of her. I will always thank her."

For father and son Stephen and David Lomas from Ulverston, Cumbria, Father's Day will also be almost exactly a year since 21-year-old David donated part of his liver to his father Stephen, 52. The June 21 operation at St James's Hospital in Leeds in 2007 was the NHS's first adult-to-adult living donor liver transplantation.

"It feels good to have made a difference to my father's life. It has been indescribable and a major factor in helping him to get better," said David, who proposed to his fiancée, Joanna Bratt, two days before the operation.

Stephen said his son's gesture had been tremendous, adding: "He is a top man, a top man. If it were not for David, I would not be here now."

Despite the success of living donor transplants, most transplant patients still depend on a deceased donor for their life-saving operation. More than 9,000 people in the UK need an organ transplant but the desperate shortage of organs from deceased donors means that only around 3,200 operations were performed last year (1 April 07 - 31 March 08). About 1,000 patients die each year before receiving the organ transplant they need.

Maxine Walter, Head of Communications at UK Transplant, said: "Father's Day is sure to be extra special for those dads whose children have transformed their lives by becoming a living donor to them.

"However, most organ transplants are made possible thanks to the kindness of people who donate organs and tissue after their death to allow the lives of complete strangers to go on.

"Around 3,000 people benefit every year from an organ transplant but the need is three times this figure. So many more people could be helped if we discussed our wishes with those closest to us and then joined the NHS Organ Donor Register."

You can find out more about organ donation and join the NHS Organ Donor Register by telephoning 0845 60 60 400 or visiting uktransplant, or by texting the word 'GIVE' to 84118. Standard text rates apply.

Notes

1. The first UK son-to-father living kidney transplant was performed in 1982.

2. UK Transplant records show that at least 125 childrenhave donated a kidney to their father in living donor transplants. Additionally, there has been one son-to-father living liver transplant.

3. There have been 1,058 father-to-child living donor organ transplants.

4. During the period from 1 April 2007- 31 March 2008, 851 living donors allowed a further 850 people to benefit from an organ transplant, a 22% increase on the previous year.

5. Of these, 829 were living kidney transplants and 20 were living liver transplants and one was a living lung transplant that required two donors.

6. Of the 850 transplants, 49 were where a son or daughter donated to their parent (48 kidneys and 1 liver).

7. The number of living organ donors (of all types) has increased by 77% since 2001-02. This growth has occurred against a background of increasing demand for transplants, a declining number of deceased heartbeating donors, and an average waiting time for a kidney transplant (from a deceased donor) of approximately 2.5 years.

8. The Human Tissue Act requires the Human Tissue Authority to approve all transplants from living donors, whether or not the donor is related to the recipient.

9. NHS Organ Donor Register is the confidential, computerised database that holds the wishes of millions of people who have decided that they want to leave a legacy of life for others after their death. The register is available to authorised medical staff 24 hours a day and is used to establish whether a person wanted to donate and if so, which organs. More than 15.4 million have currently joined the register, including almost one million who signed up during 2007-08.

10. UK Transplant is the NHS organisation responsible for matching and allocating donated organs. It is part of NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), a Special Health Authority within the NHS that manages the National Blood Service, Bio Products Laboratory, and UK Transplant.

uktransplant

Tag Cloud