A mum who donated one of her kidneys to her son in a bid to give him a new lease of life has been left facing heartache after the transplant operation failed.
Penny Cusack underwent a year of tests before she was accepted as a donor for her son Andrew, 36, who has been battling kidney disease for six years.
The operation finally went ahead in February and at first seemed a success, but Andrew’s body rejected his mum’s kidney three weeks later - and no-one yet knows why.
But mum Penny, 66, of Folders Gardens, Burgess Hill, is undeterred. “I’d do it all again if I had three kidneys,” she said.
And son Andrew spoke this week of his gratitude for the chance his mum gave him. Before the op, he said, “you get a boost knowing that there is good treatment coming up with the transplant.
“But it’s a double-edged sword because you are putting someone through an unnecessary operation.”
Andrew first discovered he had kidney disease when he visited his doctor with an unrelated ailment and he was found to have high blood pressure. Further tests showed his kidneys were failing.
“It was a shock,” he said, “I hadn’t been feeling unwell up to that point. I was a normal 30-year-old living my life as normal, playing football and running my business.”
But over the next six years Andrew’s health declined severely and he was left with just 15 per cent kidney function when he was put on the donor list.
“Both my sister and my mum said they wanted to be donors,” said Andrew. Both went for tests, but “my mum was saying she wanted to do it.”
The operation took place at St George’s Hospital in Tooting and at first seemed to have gone well before Penny’s kidney was rejected just weeks later.
Now, says Andrew, “I’m kind of in limbo. I have to go for blood tests every two weeks and I can only think two weeks ahead because anything could happen.”
Meanwhile, Andrew has to adhere to a strict diet and is frequently left tired. His wife Kate, he says, shoulders the biggest share of looking after their two young children: Sienna, four, and two-year-old Dexter, while he battles to keep his IT business going.
He is hoping that by speaking out about his illness, he can encourage more people to put their names down on the organ donor, and blood transfusion, list.
He underwent four blood transfusions after his operation. “I’m grateful to people who donate blood for someone they don’t even know. It’s amazing that people do that.”