A Midland transplant surgeon who will operate on Birmingham's Deputy Lord Mayor and his wife tomorrow has described living donors as life-saving "real heroes".
Andrew Ready, a consultant renal transplant surgeon at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Edgbaston, also spoke of the need for more people to sign the National Donor Register as the supply of dead donors is dwindling.
Councillor Mike Sharpe, aged 56, will receive a kidney from his wife Thelma in a live-saving operation tomorrow morning.
Mr Ready, who admits he would be scared if he faced a transplant, described Mrs Sharpe's gesture as "a huge thing to do".
"No matter how many of these operations I do, I am always surprised by the level of courage shown by both the donor and the patient," he said.
"The reason Thelma can give be a living donor instead of a blood relative is because tissue typing and blood group matches do not matter as much, we can get round those now so almost anybody can become a living donor.
"These people who donate are the real heroes, they show such courage, as it is often somebody close to them and it is their love for that person which is the driving force behind that decision.
"All they want is for that person to get better and to have a better life, so offering to be a living donor is quite amazing."
Recipients of a live organ transplant tend to do better than patients who receive organs from dead donors, but Mr Ready claims people must still sign the National Donor Register.
"The supply of cadaveric donors is at best plateauing and at worse decreasing, which in some ways is a good thing because it means fewer people are dying in road accidents, which is how most organs become available," he said.
"Despite the wider use of living donors, there will always be a need for people to sign the donor register, because the more options a patient has the better."
Mrs Sharpe, aged 53, will go into theatre first where one of her kidneys will be removed under general anaesthetic in a 45-minute keyhole procedure. She will then be taken back to the ward.
Coun Sharpe (Lab Tyburn) will then go in for his transplant, which will take about 90 minutes.
Mr Ready said: "Often donors and patients pass each other on their way out and into surgery, and that can be very emotional, no matter how many times you see it. It can be a very intense moment."
The QE, run by University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, began its live kidney transplant programme in 1996. Prior to that the procedure was only available in the Japan, Sweden and the US.
Since then the hospital's renal transplant team has performed about 300 operations, and has a success rate "in excess of 95 per cent".
Mr Ready added: "We're on target to hit the mid-60s by the end of this year and we hope to carry out about 80 live kidney transplants next year.
"About 80 per cent of my patients now bring their own donor with them to appointments, so the split between living and cadaveric donors here is about 50:50 now.
"We want to get people transplanted before they even go on dialysis in future, not only because it's cheaper but because it results in a better quality of life for them."