A woman who saved the life of a six-year-old girl by donating her kidney is leading a new campaign to raise awareness of the need for living organ donors.
Susan Greig, 44, made a “non-directed” donation of a kidney in July 2015 which was found to be a match for Megan Stone who received the transplant a few months later.
Megan, who is originally from Pershore in Worcestershire, was diagnosed with acute kidney failure caused by haemolytic uraemic syndrome after contracting a serious strain of the E.coli virus in 2011.
She received an initial transplant in 2014 but medical complications with the transplanted organ meant it ceased functioning 24 hours later, before a match with Mrs Greig’s kidney was found.
And now, after receiving a letter of thanks from Megan’s grandfather, Mrs Greig is calling on others to make altruistic donations.
“We all have two kidneys but can live a healthy life with just one,” she said.
“It’s such a rewarding feeling and such an amazing gift to give, you are literally changing someone’s life by doing it.
“I’d been told throughout the process that I would probably never know who it was going to, so to receive that letter and know how well Megan was doing and how my kidney had helped transform her life just made it all worth it.
“If anyone has even thought about an altruistic donation; just go ahead and do it, you don’t know who you will be helping.”
Siobhan Stilwell, Megan’s grandmother, said: “We were told we could write to Megan’s donor but waited a year, to settle into our new normality and be able to articulate the transformation of Megan’s health.
“There were really no words, we just wanted to let that person know how important she is to us.
“Megan now talks about Susan and even though we’ve never met, she’ll always be a part of our lives.”
More than 500 people have altruistically donated organs in the last ten years, with a hundred of those coming between 2015 and 2016 alone, according to Organ Donation Scotland (ODS).
However, with more than 400 people still awaiting a kidney transplant in Scotland, ODS transplant co-ordinator Jen Lumsdaine says more donors are needed.
“We’ve seen a steady increase to the point where almost half of all kidney transplants now come from living donors, which is fantastic because living donations lead to better results for patients,” she said.
“There’s no upper age limit, we’ve had some living donors in their 70s and 80s.
“It truly is the most exceptional gift.”