Brother’s gift is going strong 14 years on
A Birmingham mum, who was told she had just six months to live, was given the best ever Christmas present when her big brother Pete offered her the gift of a kidney.
From the moment she was born, Pete Hodson always looked out for his baby sister Tracey Hodges and then 38 years later he quite literally saved her life by being her perfect kidney donor match.
Tracey had been on dialysis for seven years and after a series of setbacks, her veins and arteries were no longer able to take the strain of her life-saving dialysis.
The gravity of her situation only sank in when a nurse from Tracey’s local hospital visited her at the satellite renal unit to explain that without a transplant she would die within six months.
Tracey, 52, had previously shied away from asking her six siblings if they’d consider organ donation, but now she had no choice.
“My son Edward was 10 years old at the time. He needed a mum, I knew I had to sort it out,” she said.
“My hand was forced. So, I asked Pete. We’d always been close, there’s only two years between us, and we were thick as thieves. I told him please don’t feel pressure to say yes."
Pete saved my life
Tests later confirmed Pete was as good a match they’d expect from twins.
“Looking back, it’s funny to think that as kids we’d get up to tricks jumping off our garage roof together, jumping off our double swing in the garden together, mucking around.
“We always looked out for each other growing up and now, quite literally, he was going to save my life. I feel quite emotional just thinking about it,” Tracey said.
Pete’s wife Sam, who works with Tracey, delivered the amazing news that he was happy to donate, during an emotional visit on Christmas Eve.
“Sam and I share a wonderful bond; I feel so lucky,” Tracey said. “When she told me I was so overwhelmed I cried.”
“Pete’s kidney gave me my life back and gave my son Edward a mum with energy and vitality.
“Edward had only ever known me on dialysis, tied to a machine. I know he feels the gratitude of what Uncle Pete did.”
Tracey’s kidney problems began when Edward was 18 months old in 1996.
Believing that she was suffering from cystitis, Tracey visited the local GP who suspected kidney problems. She was subsequently sent to hospital for tests.
Tired from being new mum
I felt tired and had lost some weight but thought that was due to being a new mum," Tracey said.
She was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy (IgAN), also known as Berger's disease.
It is not an inherited condition, but happens when a protein, meant to defend the body against virus and bacteria, accumulates in the kidneys and damages them.
Tracey was prescribed steroids and the flare up went into remission.
Transplant changed my life
However, it returned with a vengeance three years later in 1999 when Tracey, of Sutton Coldfield, suffered acute kidney failure.
“The weird thing is I had no symptoms at all. I went for my regular blood test and they assumed I must have been in extreme agony with a kidney function that low.
“Truth was I felt fine. I was put on 60mg steroid dosage but within a fortnight, I had water retention. Every single part of my body blew up.
“I even had a black eye from eyebrow to mouth where the pressure of the water in my body caused my blood vessels to burst.”
In October 1999 dialysis began and seven years later in October 2006 she had the life-saving transplant from Pete, 55.
“I went from lethargic to having energy. I could eat and drink what I wanted and my life changed. The kidney is still doing well and I feel great.”
I've been lucky
Meantime, Tracey can’t wait to get together with Pete once lockdown is over to give him a massive hug.
“We see each other all the time, so I’ve really missed Pete and Sam in lockdown, I can’t wait to give them both a hug! I love my brother to bits.
“Our favourite thing is going for a curry in Wednesbury and playing a game of Monopoly, so that’s our number one thing once we can meet up again.”
Tracey knows not everyone is as fortunate as her so has been inspired to support research by walking 8,500 steps a day in our 850 Challenge.
“I’ve been lucky to have such a good match and that my kidney is doing well. Others are not so lucky, which is why I want to do my bit to help a charity that is close to my heart.”
Get our e-newsletter
Stay up to date with our kidney research news, events and ways to get involved.