A mother has given her son the ultimate gift by giving up a kidney to save his life in a pioneering move by medics in the region.
Craig Clark, who grew up in Pebblemill Close, Cannock, Staffordshire, was desperately ill despite undergoing four kidney transplants over the past 18 years.
But when the 29-year-old’s latest kidney started to fail, his mother Zandra James didn’t think twice about stepping forward. The mother and son are also more hopeful as Craig is one of only two people in Europe to be given a revolutionary drug to stop the body rejecting a transplanted kidney.
Surgeons at University Hospital, in Walsgrave, Coventry, were some of the first to trial drug Eculizumab on Craig following the transplant in October.
Its success could lead to other patients nationwide being prescribed the drug to save more lives.
“I had my first transplant when I was about 11-years-old but the latest one, which was of a kidney donated by my mother, has been the best yet,” said the management consultant. “Words cannot express how I feel about my mother donating one of her kidneys for me.
“I was given a single dose of the new drug. It has helped to reduce the rejection that I was undergoing at the time and I had no side effects from it.
“So far I am much better than after my last transplant 10 years ago, when I had a major reaction to one of the drugs I was given to reduce the chance of rejection.”
Mrs James, who lives in Baswich Lane, Stafford, was given lengthy advice on becoming a living donor while her son had his antibodies washed out of the blood before the operation to reduce further the chance of them rejecting the new organ.
She said: “It has been challenging at times, over the years, to see my son Craig have to go through dialysis and transplants because he was born with very small kidneys.
“I wanted to donate a kidney to him 10 years ago but the technology wasn’t so well advanced then, so I couldn’t.
“Now I’ve done it and although the recovery from the surgery is tough going, it’s a joy to know I have given new hope for my son in the years to come.”
The drug works by inhibiting the part of the blood which has been linked to the problem of antibodies binding on to a kidney and causing damage to or rejection by the organ.
Renal consultant Dr Rob Higgins, who is researching different ways to further reduce the risk of donor rejection, said: “It is quite a big thing for anyone to donate one of their organs for someone else and is usually done by a family member or a friend. It shows a lot of love.
“The use of Eculizumab requires further careful evaluation in clinical trials before we are sure about how safe and effective it is in transplant patients – but the early results are promising.”
Dr Higgins and his team have showcased the success of the operation at an international meeting of transplant experts.