Best friend’s gift gives Eastbourne woman lease of life

Kim and Abbie after surgery
Kim and Abbie after surgery

A kidney donor is looking forward to the “future and endless opportunities” after she saved her best friend from a life of relying on a dialysis machine.

Abbie Lloyd-Radford stepped forward for best friend of 36 years, Kim Bryant-Butcher, in her time of need.

Kim, Abbie and Mark have all known eachother for 36 years

Kim, Abbie and Mark have all known eachother for 36 years

The two underwent surgery at Kings College Hospital together and were allowed home last week.

The pair signed up to the NHS ‘shared scheme’ which means if they are not a perfect match for a straight kidney swap with each other, they are on the list to meet another pair who fit the right criteria.

This type of surgery is called paired/pooled donation (PPD).

The surgery saw Abbie donate her kidney to a stranger and in return Kim received another person’s kidney as part of the shared scheme. Without Abbie, Kim would not have been able to be on the waiting list to receive the organ.

Abbie, a British Airways cabin crew worker, said, “It’s been an amazing journey with Kim and my husband, Mark.

“The love and support we have had from our family and friends has been overwhelming and truly beautiful.

“We are all looking forward to the future and to endless opportunities.”

Kim and Abbie have known each other since they met at Willingdon School when they were 12-years-old and have stayed best friends ever since.

Abbie, now 48, said, “I would do it again in a heartbeat.

“I kept thinking if I was in Kim’s shoes where’s my back up plan? There was no back up plan for Kim, she was relying on dialysis. I thought if that was me I would feel desperate.”

Abbie lives in Austria with Mark but decided to move in to her mother’s house in Oldfield Avenue, Willingdon, for two months during the transplant process.

Abbie said, “Mark’s been amazing in supporting me.

“The whole process from start to finish at Brighton Renal Clinic has been amazing. They were so thorough and reassuring.

“The female surgeon was brilliant and my employers at BA have been really supportive.”

Abbie is set to go back to work at the end of October after having a recommended four to six weeks off for recovery.

She said, “I don’t think people really talk about organ donation. The thought of donation is worse than the process.

“The doctors told me my body can cope with one kidney and it’s as healthy as an 18 year old’s. It was a no-brainer.

“It does not alter my life at all. But it changes Kim’s.”

Kim said, “I cannot thank Abbie enough for her selfless act of kindness - she really has changed my life.

“My kidney transplant went very well and I was surprised how good I felt the day after surgery. My kidney function continues to improve. “Anyone can find out if they are eligible to become a living kidney donor and save someone’s life.

“I have met many patients who have had a transplant from a living or deceased donor but sadly, not everyone will have that opportunity.

“I am looking forward to a wonderful future.”

For more information about the NHS Shared Scheme visit www.odt.nhs.uk/living-donation/uk-living-kidney-sharing-scheme.