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Around three million people in the UK have kidney disease

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Proving that being a kidney donor has no impact on your quality of life

04 March 2020

Paul Saker is tackling gruelling marathon challenges to prove to others that being a kidney donor has no impact on a person’s quality of life.

Paul Saker ran three half marathons in a month and is training for three tough bike rides – two at 80 miles and one at 100 miles.

The 42-year-old is raising money for Kidney Research UK after seeing how a transplant transformed his wife Dee’s life.

Paul became an organ donor, because despite not being compatible with Dee, he joined the matched pairing kidney share scheme to help another patient.

Paul and Dee Saker
Paul and Dee Saker

Paul, who works for EDF, said: “I’ve been running for around ten years, but now have a sense of purpose and a focus to raise awareness and raise money.

“I’m doing it to prove to others that being a kidney donor doesn’t make any difference to your quality of life. I want to encourage others to step forward and consider being a donor.

“Having a transplant transformed Dee’s life.”

Dee found out she was suffering from kidney failure in 2014 and, in 2016, the couple were told she would need haemodialysis until a suitable donor could be found. They chose for Dee to undertake her dialysis at home, with the remote support of the home haemo team at County Hospital in Brighton.

They were warned it could take up to seven years for Dee to receive a kidney from the deceased donor list, Paul said.

“Dee suffers from rheumatoid arthritis so she could put the dialysis needles in and complete the treatment, but she couldn’t take the needles out, so we had to arrange her dialysis sessions around when I was at home and back from work. It was very difficult for her.

“I wanted to donate a kidney, but we are different blood types, so I assumed it was not possible,” he said.

Then, Paul saw a leaflet in a clinic about the shared donor scheme, where a person who is not a perfect match can still donate a kidney to allow a loved one to receive a transplant. Four times each year, the willing donors and their linked recipients are run through a matching programme and the donations and transplants are carefully scheduled.

“I had a chat with support staff to find out about potential risks and have no regrets. I am still running and have felt no ill effects. In fact, the only evidence that I donated is a small scar.

“I really want to highlight that anybody can donate. Once I learnt about this scheme, I didn’t think twice.

“We were lucky that Dee received a brilliant match which worked well, she only had to wait a year and her body hasn’t rejected it.”

Paul Saker

It is Dee’s two-year kidneyversary in May 2020. Before her transplant Dee would get very tired and found the dialysis process to be stressful.

Now, she has much more energy and, although she cannot go back to work because of other restrictive health issues, it means she has a much better quality of life, and is currently cycling a mile for everyone on the kidney waiting list between her first and second kidneyversaries.

Paul, of Burgess Hill, added:” I need to extend a huge thank you to EDF who supported myself and Dee through all of this this with time off and a phased return to work. They’ve been amazing.”

Paul ran half marathons in Barcelona, Brighton and Eastbourne within 15 days of each other in February 2020 and is training for two 80-mile rides, plus a 100-mile cycling challenge in the summer.

Three million people in the UK have kidney disease, yet one million of these don’t know they have it. There is no cure, and for people with kidney failure the only way to stay alive is dialysis or transplant.

Visit Paul's JustGiving page to support his fundraising challenge.

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