THE UK’s oldest organ donor has come face-to-face with the stranger who received his kidney after she did some detective work and tracked him down.
Nicholas Crace, now aged 85, became the country’s oldest altruistic kidney donor on April 29, 2012, when he had his healthy left kidney removed.
The generous pensioner, from Overton, underwent the three-hour major surgery for no other reason than to help a stranger, who he thought he would never meet.
But Veronica Reynolds, who was given the kidney at the Northern General Hospital, Sheffield, had other ideas.
The 68-year-old said: “We had been writing to each other after the transplant, but it was done anonymously and some information was removed.
“I was annoyed that it was taking such a long time to receive these letters, and when I didn’t receive a Christmas card until March this year, it was the last straw.”
Mrs Reynolds, of Dinnington, near Sheffield, said: “I had seen newspaper reports about Nicholas and I knew, because of the dates, that it was likely he was my donor, but I wasn’t absolutely sure.”
But the mother-of-two’s hunch was firmed up when she realised that the Christmas card which had been sent to her by Mr Crace was produced by St Michael’s Hospice, in Basingstoke.
She had discovered from media reports that Mr Crace lived in Overton, just a few miles from the hospice, and had in fact helped to found the hospice.
She said: “I knew then for certain that it was him, and I was able to find his number in the phone book.”
When she did make the phone call, on March 20, Mr Crace said he was “completely confounded”.
He said: “I am not usually at a loss for words, but I was completely confounded when I got that call. It was a call I had always hoped for, but never expec-ted to actually happen.”
After chatting for around 20 minutes, the pair agreed to meet up, and Mrs Reynolds and her husband Roy visited Mr Crace at his Overton home the following week.
Mr Crace said: “We do have a friendship but it is more than that – we have a very unusual bond. Veronica described it as being a kinship and I think that is right. It was wonderful to meet her and we are still very much in contact.”
Mrs Reynolds said: “I am enormously grateful to him. There is something peculiar between me and him – we are like kindred spirits. I couldn’t have asked for a better donor.”
Prior to the transplant, Mrs Reynolds, who has a genetic kidney disease and has suffered from kidney failure since 1983, was receiving dialysis three times a week and said her life was very “limited.”
She said: “I had to be so careful with my diet and I couldn’t do things like go on holiday. The transplant has given me my freedom back.”
Mr Crace said that the meeting had made him appreciate the difference that his altruistic donation had made.
He said: “I think it is hard to understand how difficult life can be for someone on dialysis. When you see the results of what you have done, which has transformed someone’s life, it is wonderful. I am so grateful to have been able to meet her.”