SHE describes herself as “one of the lucky ones” – and now Tracey Sinclair is urging more people to give others the chance of life by signing up to be an organ donor.
It’s a year since Tracey received her second kidney transplant. The 45-year-old is now relatively healthy, and owes her good fortune to the fact that the two people she received kidneys from were on the NHS Organ Donor Register.
Tracey was unaware that she had any problems with her kidneys until she was 36. She went to the doctors after noticing her ankles were swollen and was shocked when she was told she had a condition called IgA nephropathy.
The illness is a kidney disorder that occurs when IgA – a protein that helps the body fight infections – settles in the kidneys, and after many years, the IgA deposits can cause the kidneys to leak blood and protein.
Within two years of her diagnosis, Tracey was on the NHS Organ Donor Register, and was on dialysis which she did herself every day, four times a day, with a machine that effectively did the job of a healthy kidney.
She had to wait two-and-a-half years before receiving a kidney, which dramatically improved her quality of life and meant she no longer needed dialysis.
Unfortunately, that kidney began to falter after a couple of kidney infections, and she was put back on the register in January 2012.
This time, Tracey didn’t have as long to wait, and was delighted when she received a second transplant in November 2012.
Just over 12 months on, the transplant appears to have been a success and, despite having to take various medications, Tracey said having a second transplant was a good decision.
Tracey, who works in customer services, said: “A transplant doesn’t mean that you will be well again – I will always have the condition. But it gives you a much better quality of life, and it wasn’t something I needed to think twice about.”
With the average lifespan of a donated kidney being just 10 years, Tracey knows it is likely she will need another transplant in the future.
She said: “It is just so important that people are aware of the issue and sign up to the register. I also want to raise awareness of the fact that you can be a living donor with a kidney transplant – it is an incredible, selfless thing to do.”
Tracey, who lives with her partner, Gary, 52, has been working for several years with the National Kidney Federation and volunteers on the charity’s committee.
To find out about signing up to the NHS Organ Donor Register, visit organdonation.nhs.uk.