Yesterday, I attended a very special celebration at the Evelina London Children’s Hospital. For those of you who don’t know, the Evelina have treated me since I was born – I had my first surgery there at 6 months old, my first bypass surgery at 2, my heart surgery at 10, my major foot surgery but most importantly, my kidney transplant.
This year marks 50 years since the first child received a kidney transplant, so, the Evelina – who have been pioneering in developing and perfecting paediatric kidney transplants – hosted a wonderful event to showcase the past, present and future of the life-saving surgery.
The event was organised by Grainne Walsh, Advanced Nurse Practitioner – a woman without who, I would not be who I am today. Grainne has supported and guided countless children and their families, including me, through their transplant journeys and is the glue that holds the entire Evelina children’s kidney transplant team together. She is, to say the least, an inspiring and amazing woman to whom I owe a lot to. Thank you, Grainne, if you’re reading!
Throughout the event, a number of doctors, surgeons, nurses, patients and parents took to the stage to speak about their part in 50 years of kidney transplantation. These speakers included Professor Sir Cyril Chantler, a nephrologist who was one of the founding members of the children’s transplant programme, Diane Gough, who had her transplant 40 years ago and has now had her kidney longer than her donor (her mother) and Mr Geoff Koffman, the surgeon who carried out my transplant 6 years ago.
It was absolutely fascinating to hear about where it all started and the technology we have now, such as warm perfusion machines that keep kidneys alive outside the body for longer allowing a better chance of a successful transplant, not to mention where kidney transplantation is headed in the future – one day, people could receive transplants from pigs!
I am absolutely honoured to have been invited to such fascinating and wonderful event and enjoyed every minute of it. I was so glad to see so many of the wonderful doctors and nurses who have treated me through the years, again.
It was so inspiring to meet Victoria Blackburn, who was the first child to receive a kidney in the UK, and her father who was her donor!
The Evelina Children’s Kidney Transplant Choir made a special appearance – and even got the audience involved!
Thank you Evelina London for helping us reach such a milestone – happy 50th kidney day!
See you soon,