A doting wife has spoken of how she gave up her kidney to save her husband’s life.
Charlotte Sutton, a medical secretary from Shirley, Solihull, offered to become a donor for 63-year-old husband Barry - highly unusual when there is no blood relationship.
But surgeons at Coventry’s University Hospital were able to go ahead with the life-saving transplant as the couple share the same blood type.
Mrs Sutton, aged 58, and her husband, who are back home recovering from surgery, have even sentimentally nicknamed the transplanted organ as ‘Sidney the Kidney’.
They fell in love at first sight at a Valentine’s dinner dance in Dorridge 14 years ago, moving in together three weeks later.
Although Mr Sutton, a 63-year-old newsagent worker, was diagnosed with kidney disease Iga Nephropathy two years later, his kidneys suddenly dramatically failed in June last year, and he went on the transplant list.
Mrs Sutton stepped forward and offered her own healthy organ, despite never having an operation or being admitted to hospital in her life.
“The doctor said my kidneys were only working at 12 per cent and I would need daily dialysis or a transplant,” said Mr Sutton.
“Charlotte had always jokingly said she would give me her kidney but I was full of doubt. Despite us not being related, she was a blood match and so a transplant could work.
“I am getting used to the idea now that her organ is in my body.
‘‘A lot of people wouldn’t be able to cope with that. I can’t thank her enough,” he said.
Mrs Sutton, who married her husband in August 1999, underwent rigorous tests at Solihull hospital to check her body would cope with the kidney removal.
They even had to pass interviews with the Human Tissue Authority to check the wife had not been coerced or paid into becoming a donor.
But the transplant swap was almost halted when Mrs Sutton came down with a kidney infection weeks before it was due to take place.
The infection cleared up so the operation went ahead on January 8 at Coventry’s University Hospital.
Although one in three patients reject the kidney, both patients were home within a week and have been doing well ever since with Barry taking anti-rejection drugs.
“We can’t believe it’s done,” said Mrs Sutton. “I had never been to hospital, never even had a baby and I don’t remember the operation but I woke up shouting: ‘I’ve done it, I’ve done it!
“The first time we saw each other after the transplant, we looked at each other and burst into tears.
“I never hesitated for a moment in giving Barry my kidney, it never worried me but it was something I wanted to do.
“Everyone kept saying to me ‘you are so brave’ but I work for a psychiatrist and he said to me: ‘You are brave enough to have this operation, but you are not brave enough to live without your husband ‘ and that’s when I realised he was right – I couldn’t manage life without Barry.
“I’ve always carried a donor card and I had two healthy kidneys, so why shouldn’t Barry have one of them?”
The couple’s transplant comes after University Hospital carried out a pioneering transplant between sisters Maxine Bath and Michelle Titmus, from Wolverhampton, even though they were ‘incompatible’ in blood type.
Mrs Bath, 41, was the first person in the world to have the ground-breaking operation after having her blood plasma frozen and filtered to ensure that the organ was not rejected in November.