An Ashfield woman has told how three kidney transplants have saved her life and helped her to live it to the full.
Laura Barratt from Sutton has had three kidney transplant after a childhood cancer left her on dialysis aged just 4 - two from deceased donors and a final one a living donation from her dad.
The 25-year-old was urging more people to become donors during National Transplant Week.
Laura had a kidney removed after she was diagnosed with a Wilms Tumour, a type of cancer, when she was two.
She said: “I then had to have weeks of chemotherapy and my parents were told to prepare for the worst.
“After the chemotherapy they had to remove my other kidney as my blood pressure was dangerously high.”
Laura had a transplant but it only lasted three years and she was placed on the waiting list again aged seven – a tough age to be on the restricted diet kidney patients need to stay alive.
She said: “I hated it as I couldn’t have any chips, chocolate or coke cola, all the things kids love at that age.”
Laura had a her second transplant soon after and she went from strength to strength but after six years, when she was in Year 9 at school, that also began to fail.
Her father turned out to be a good match as a live donor and she received his kidney in March 2004.
Laura said: “I’ve had my dad’s kidney for 11 years so far with no problems, touch wood.
Having my third transplant enabled me to pass all my GCSEs.
“I currently have a full time job and I’m able to live life to the full, I’ve travelled the world been to various places since my third transplant, I’m able to eat what I what, drink what I want, which is awesome, knowing that it won’t effect my potassium or phosphate levels.”
Laura goes for regular hospital check ups once every four months to make sure all her results are as they should be.
She takes medication on a daily basis to help try and prevent rejection.
Laura added: “I’ve competed for Nottingham in three transplant games winning multiple medals in archery and ten pin bowling.
“I have a boyfriend and we have our own flat and I’m able to live an independent life.
“I realise a transplant is a treatment and not a cure so I know I’ll need another one at some point in the future which is slightly worrying because there aren’t enough donors.
“I know people that have been on the list for more than 10 years with no luck of getting a new kidney, but I try to focus on what’s happening now rather than what will happen in the future and I feel that having my transplant has helped me get where I am today.
“And I’ve done some amazing things like swim with dolphins, I’ve even been a mascot for Manchester United!”
Across Nottinghamshire there are 132 people waiting for a transplant.
NHS figures show last year 61 people in the county had their lives saved or transformed thanks to deceased organ donation.
Last year the number of people donating organs in the UK fell for the first time in 11 years. The UK also has one of the lowest rates in Europe for families consenting to organ donation and in 2014/15 only 58% agreed to donate their family members’ organs after they died.
The National Transplant Week NHS Blood and Transplant aimed to get the whole nation talking about organ donation and the importance of sharing decisions on being an organ donor with family and close friends.
For more information, visit Go to www.organdonation.nhs.uk.