Kidney donor offers advice to others considering it

ISOBEL EWING
Last updated 05:00 21/07/2014

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Eight weeks after he donated one of his kidneys to an unknown recipient, Graham Arthur has offered advice to more than a dozen potential donors.

The 58-year-old father of two and printer at the Taranaki Daily News for 26 years had surgery to remove one of his kidneys in Auckland in May.

Since then he has fielded a dozen or more queries from would-be donors through the Facebook group Give a Kidney NZ Group.

"I'm there as someone who has been a donor for people who want to ask questions of what to expect - what the recovery was like and the time frame.

"I tell them what my experience was like because everyone's going to be different."

He said the biggest issue was the wait time between blood tests and having to travel to and from Auckland.

Being fit and healthy was a priority for a potential kidney donor, Arthur said.

"I was lucky that I made sure I kept myself healthy and fit, that helped immensely with the recovery."

It was not necessary for people to "go all out" and change their whole lifestyle, but regular exercise was essential, he said.

"It knocks the stuffing out of you."

Eight weeks after the operation, he feels slightly more tired than he used to but has been told that will diminish as his remaining kidney starts to take over the work of the other one.

Other than that, his life is pretty much the same as before, he said.

Arthur is pleased about the Government's recently-announced plan to set up a National Renal Transplant Service to boost the country's low kidney transplantation rate, but hopes it will mean financial aid for donors.

The Government will spend $4 million over the next four years on establishing a clinically-led service to provide about 10 more operations a year.

Arthur said part of the funding should go towards funding travel costs for people who wanted to be donors, but did not live in any of the big centres.

He was required to travel to Auckland for many tests.

"If the Government helped out [donors] as well as the recipients, that would be a really good move."

Only about 110 to 120 patients a year get the transplant; some die waiting and others remain on dialysis at a cost to the country three times higher than if they had had a transplant.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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