A desperately ill woman from St Helens has been given the gift of life after her cousin flew half way around the world to donate a kidney.
Selfless Lynley Everest, 40, jetted 10,000 miles from her home in Australia to donate a kidney to Paula Rowlett.
Paula, 32, was diagnosed with kidney failure in March 2012 after going to the doctor with a throat infection.
At first, she was able to maintain a relatively normal life - keeping her full-time job as a lecturer at St Helens College and undergoing dialysis treatment on her lunch breaks.
But she was tired much of the time and unable to do many of the activities she previously could.
So her family were asked if they would be willing to donate a kidney to improve her quality of life – and, amazingly, Lynley stepped forward as a match despite living half the world away!
After receiving a kidney at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital last Monday (July 21), Paula, who is still recuperating, now faces a bright future without the need for home dialysis.
Lynley, of Newcastle, New South Wales, said: “A lot of people have asked me ‘when did you decide?’ But it didn’t ever occur to me not to do this.
“As soon as I found out Paula was unwell I did the research. Paula is an incredibly positive person. What a lot of people would moan about, she doesn’t. It’s just her character.
“When I visited her last year Paula mentioned her blood type was O+ and I’m O- so we’re the same group. The testing process was pretty vigorous – I was tested for multiple sclerosis, diabetes, cancer.”
Lynley now cannot board a plane, drive or lift anything heavy for six weeks and relied on the goodwill of her employers to allow her the time off. But she says it has all been worth it.
“The hospital has been absolutely fabulous,” she added. “I’ve never been in hospital before so I didn’t know what to expect, but I can’t fault them. From testing to coming here, everybody has been marvellous.”
The transplant was masterminded by Jean Shallcross, who has been a donor co-ordinator at the Royal for the last 17 years.
Jean first made contact with the living donor co-ordinator at the John Hunter Hospital in New South Wales in November 2013 and a series of investigations and assessments followed to ensure Lynley was a suitable match.
She said: “Taking donors from America and Australia are slightly easier because they have similar standards of healthcare. We try to get them back home within three months of arriving.
“Living transplants have increased over the years and more and more people have relatives abroad. This year we have had a donor from Burma and one from India and we’re looking to do one from the Philippines.”