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Volunteers Bharat and Avril Patel celebrate 10 year kidney transplant anniversary
Press release date02/11/2018
Bharat Patel and his wife Avril volunteer as renal support workers at Leicester’s Hospitals. This week was very special for the couple, as on Monday October 29 they celebrated ten years since Avril became a living donor and gave one of her kidneys to Bharat. A decade on from the ‘miracle life changing experience’, Bharat and Avril are encouraging others to sign up to become organ donors.
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Avril & Bharat Patel Avril & Bharat Patel
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Bharat gave an account of his transplant story; “In 2001, when driving back to Leicester on the motorway, I became really unwell. An ambulance took me to accident and emergency at Leicester Royal, where my blood pressure was found to be extremely high. I stayed in hospital and a week later was told both my kidneys had failed and were only working at twenty four per cent. This meant nothing to me as I had no idea what the functions of a kidney were.  However, in a very short space of time I realised the kidney had multiple functions and its failure led to very severe complications.

“This was devastating news and life was to change drastically for the worse. In a short space of time my condition worsened so much so that I was not able to even take care of myself. Consuming up to thirty tablets a day just to survive, I often wondered what this terrible illness was doing to me. My symptoms included being unable to walk, feeling extremely lethargic, unable to maintain any sort of daily routine, breathlessness, being unable sleep at night and suffering from clinical depression.

“I was placed on the Organ Donation waiting list but unfortunately for me the vital life saving phone call with the offer of a kidney never ever came. In 2002, I met Avril from Dunblane in Scotland. We met by chance, buying a sandwich from a corner shop. She became my friend and in 2008, with my kidneys functioning at a mere five per cent, Avril underwent a series of tests to find out if her kidneys were compatible. I took no notice of this as I knew that if I were to ever get a kidney, it would need to come from an Asian donor - because blood group and tissue type match is required for transplant. I was well aware that as Asians do not donate their organs readily, my chances were slim.

“Much to my surprise we were informed that Avril was a match and the transplant could proceed. Serious thoughts crossed my mind - why should I take Avril’s kidney to benefit me? Determined, Avril showed extreme courage, bravery and unselfishness in donating. On 29 October 2008, a living donor transplant took place in which Avril donated one of her kidneys to me, in our own Leicester General Hospital.”

“The transplant was a success which I can only describe as a miracle life changing experience. I felt like a little baby being born again, with a brand new life ahead of me. Never could I even dream that such a change in a human lifestyle could ever be possible. Ten years on my donated kidney is working absolutely fine and functions the same as when first transplanted. Transplant works.

“Life for both of us had a totally different purpose from there on and ever since we have given our lives voluntarily to the work of helping others like me cope through their renal journeys. We volunteer as renal support workers at Leicester’s Hospitals in pre-transplant clinics and wards, providing patients with moral, emotional and psychological support work for which we are renowned. Some patients have gone on to receive kidneys from the donor register, while others have gone onto become living donors who have taken our advice have gone onto becoming living donors.

“We also work closely with the Leicester Hospitals Charity Kidney Care Appeal. The work we have been doing in the community promoting the Organ Donor register is truly remarkable. With the number of people we have signed up to the register over the years, we are by far the top in Leicestershire – and all of this has been done voluntarily.

“The work we do on organ donation includes organising talks and lectures, holding organ donation information stalls at health events, community centres, hospitals, shopping centres, prominent locations, temples, and Sikh gurudwaras. We also appear at major events such as the Hindu festival of Diwali, nine nights festival of Navratri, Mela, Holi, and Katha - recital of Hindu bible by world renowned speakers.

“Our work with the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities is very challenging as we find they do not readily accept organ donation. In the Hindu community, of which I am a member, we have special interest and enjoy considerable success spending a lot of our time with them.”

On their tenth transplant anniversary, Bharat and Avril would like to convey the following message to the communities of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, especially the BAME communities therein:

“Transplant works. Receiving an organ is getting a gift of life from someone. Human organs are destined to last longer than a lifetime. The Hindu (BAME) communities need to understand that as a result of their reluctance to donate their organs their communities are suffering unnecessarily. We would urge them to participate in the service of Daan (donation). Soul is eternal, body is a vehicle. One should not mourn for body. Daan (donation) is an act of selfless giving.

“In the UK there is a desperate need for Hindu (BAME) organs as they form thirty three per cent of the waiting list. Only one per cent are registered donors. This is not acceptable. Societies need to respond and you can do something special – Join the Organ Donor Register by visiting www.organdonation.nhs.uk or calling 0300 123 23 23. Remember you may need an organ one day.”


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Robert Knowles
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