Bank worker gives friend her kidney

Prestwich and Whitefield Guide: Helen Cavanagh, right, with Julie Rogers before the operation Helen Cavanagh, right, with Julie Rogers before the operation

BANK worker Helen Cavanagh gave her colleague the ultimate gift this Christmas — a new kidney.

Mrs Cavanagh, aged 51, from Elton, Bury, was admitted to hospital on Boxing Day alongside Julie Rogers, aged 45, in readiness for a double operation lasting eight hours.

Mother-of-two Ms Rogers, from Hindley, suffers from polycystic kidney disease, which has already killed her grandfather, great-aunt and aunt.

Ms Rogers, who works at RBS in Bolton, has been on dialysis three times a week since being diagnosed, and Mrs Cavanagh was so shocked when she realised how ill her friend was that she offered her the ultimate gift of life.

The operation, which went ahead on Friday, was a success and now both women are recovering well at Manchester Royal Infir-mary.

Mrs Cavanagh, who works as a project manager at the bank’s Manchester branch, said: “I feel fine. It’s quite amazing how little pain I’m in. It’s uncomfortable but there’s no excruciating pain, which I thought I’d have. I’ve only used the morphine drip seven times since the operation.

“I’ve managed to eat too. I started with soup, and I’ve eaten all my meals since. I’ve also enjoyed having cups of tea.

“I have been to see Julie twice and she said she feels really good.

“The way she was before, either working, sleeping, being sick, it wasn’t a life, it was an existence.

“I am just glad that I have been able to help give her some of that back.”

Mrs Cavanagh was in theatre for five hours and although it was nerve-wracking, she says she does not regret it and hopes her story will encourage others to donate.

She said: “I’m really pleased I’ve done it. But it doesn’t feel like anything big, it’s something that I’ve just done.

“I’ve known Julie since 1997 on and off through working together. It was surprising to hear that we were a blood and tissue match so straight away I thought it was meant to be.

“More than anything I really hope that our story will give others the courage to look into being a donor, because there are so many people out there who need it.”

Ms Rogers, who is originally from Westhou-ghton and now lives in Hindley, had been on a waiting list for a donor organ.

Before the operation, Ms Rogers said: “It’s the gift of life. There’s people dying all the time. She’s the most important person in my life.

“They said at the hospital it was unusual.

“All the nurses seemed surprised she was a friend and not a relative and how amazing it was.”

Over the last seven years Ms Rogers’ kidneys grew so large that people thought she was pregnant and she had to wear maternity clothes.

She struggled to breathe properly, was in a lot of pain and her eating and drinking had been severely restricted.

The pair were admitted at 2pm on Boxing Day at the Manchester Royal Infirmary with the operation, lasting five hours for Mrs Cavanagh and three for Ms Rogers, taking place on Friday morning.

A spokeswoman for NHS Blood and Transplant said: “What Helen is doing is a very selfless act. She is doing something genuinely good for a friend in desperate need of a transplant.

“More than 1,000 people choose to donate an organ as a living donor each year and these rates are continuing to rise.

“There are currently more than 5,800 people waiting for a kidney in the UK and these people rely on others donating their organs to improve their life.”

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