A Wigan dad whose life was saved when he received a kidney from his sister is backing national Organ Donation Week.
Paul Reynolds, from Goose Green, was 37 when he underwent the life-changing operation after an autoimmune disease caused his kidneys to stop working properly.
The 45-year-old dad-of-five suffers from IGA Nethropathy, a condition which causes inflammation that, over time, can hamper the organs’ ability to filter waste from the blood.
When Paul was first diagnosed, he was told that he would have around 20 years before he needed dialysis, however just two years later he had deteriorated to the point where there was no other choice.
Despite refusing offers from his family, Paul was eventually convinced to take an organ from his sister Catherine Prentice, who is five years his senior.
“The specialist said I would have 20 years before I needed any dialysis,” he said. “But that changed within just two.
“I asked the doctors if it was me, my lifestyle but they said that this condition is just unpredictable.
“I didn’t want anyone I loved having to undergo a kidney transplant in case they died.
“I have three sisters and they all got tested, my parents were ruled out because of their age.
“It was my eldest sister Catherine who was a match.
“For months I refused but she said if it was me, would you do it? She said ‘you would do it in a heart beat.”
Paul and Catherine’s kidney operation finally took place in March 2012 at Manchester Royal Infirmary.
Since then he has welcomed two grandchildren into the world.
“I could never repay her for what she has done,” he added. “But she didn’t do it for that reason.
“We have always been a very close family. Apart from one sister, we all live near each other in Goose Green.
“Since then we have all joined the register. Before that we weren’t on it. It just wasn’t in the public domain. I didn’t know of anyone who had had a transplant.”
Since the operation Paul’s life has changed dramatically. While taking part in the Transplant Games, he met a whole community of transplant “brothers” who have been a unit of support for him through difficult times. He has travelled across the world from Argentina to Malaga, representing the country in the Ten Pin Bowling team.
Despite continuing to look after himself, Paul’s condition has returned, yet doctors are unable to tell what kind of impact this could have on the transplant organ.
“It has started to attack the kidney,” he said. “It won’t last forever even with the drugs. I might as well make the most of it. I will keep going to the transplant games and I am planning a skydive next year for the charity Kidneys for Life.
“I don’t want to tell people to sign the organ donation register but I would ask people to really consider it.
“Signing the register is just half the battle. Your family can still refuse so it’s so important to share your wishes with them too.”
Organ Donation Week runs until September 8. To sign up visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk