Around three million people in the UK have kidney disease

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Barbara and Christine

Barbara and Christine

Growing older in friendship and shared good health.

Christine Ashton and Barbara Hodgson are the best of friends. They are not related but they feel like sisters. And that is because Christine donated one of her kidneys to Barbara 17 years ago. They have one kidney each.

Just over 20 years ago, Barbara fell ill suddenly. She had some flu-like symptoms but by the end of the week she was in hospital having dialysis. Her immune system was attacking her kidneys.

Christine Ashton and Barbara Hodgson

She spent the next two years on dialysis, having to travel to hospital every other day which was very draining and made her sick. After a while she was able to change to home dialysis and went onto the transplant waiting list.

However, in 1998 Barbara’s health continued to deteriorate and by summer she was told by her doctor that she may only have another three or four months to live.

“This was such a massive shock. I found it very difficult to take it all in. One minute I was healthy and active, the next I was being told that my life might be over,” said Barbara.

Christine had been the carer for Barbara’s mum and she began helping to look after Barbara. She was there when Barbara came home from hospital dialysis, helping her with bathing, providing all the care and support Barbara needed.

Unbeknown to Barbara, Christine went to her GP and asked to be tested to be a donor. She wanted to offer one of her kidneys to Barbara. It turned out she was a match.

Christine saved Barbara’s life. The transplant took place on 2 August. Christine describes it, “The operation was on Tuesday and by Saturday I was home.

Now it is 17 years on, we are growing older but we are fully fit and the best of friends and life is good.

Today they are always there for each other. They’re always on the phone, meeting to share a meal or spend time together. They are both active in their community and continue to raise awareness of kidney disease and the importance of the Organ Donation Register.

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