Glamorgan man saves life of his son, 8, by donating his kidney to a stranger who gave his to boy – Daily Mail

A father has saved the life of his eight-year-old son after donating a kidney to a stranger so the youngster could receive one from them in return.

Harry Weir was diagnosed with a chronic kidney disease aged two and has been seriously ill most of his life, with daily dialysis treatment helping keep him alive.

But thanks to his father Mike Weir and the anonymous donor, he is now recovering.

Mr Weir, from Llantrisant in Glamorgan, south Wales, said: ‘We understand that a transplant is not a cure and life will never be normal for Harry or us. However, we now have a healthier son and hopes and dreams to live for.’

Harry was born with functioning kidneys but was regularly ill as a baby and toddler and suffered from constipation and viruses.

Mike Weir saved the life of his eight-year-old son, Harry (both pictured) after donating a kidney to a stranger so the youngster could receive one from them in return

Mike Weir saved the life of his eight-year-old son, Harry (both pictured) after donating a kidney to a stranger so the youngster could receive one from them in return

Mike Weir saved the life of his eight-year-old son, Harry (both pictured) after donating a kidney to a stranger so the youngster could receive one from them in return

Harry Weir, from Llantrisant in Glamorgan, south Wales, was diagnosed with a chronic kidney disease aged two and has been seriously ill most of his life, with daily dialysis treatment helping keep him alive

Harry Weir, from Llantrisant in Glamorgan, south Wales, was diagnosed with a chronic kidney disease aged two and has been seriously ill most of his life, with daily dialysis treatment helping keep him alive

Harry Weir, from Llantrisant in Glamorgan, south Wales, was diagnosed with a chronic kidney disease aged two and has been seriously ill most of his life, with daily dialysis treatment helping keep him alive

It was only when he was admitted to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital with a virus that a urine test showed he had issues with his kidneys.

At the age of three, Harry had a biopsy and was diagnosed with focal segmental global glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) – a chronic kidney condition in both kidneys that would only get worse.

Mr Weir said: ‘We dealt with Harry’s illness for many years. We knew when his kidneys were struggling as he started having headaches and it would then be time to get the sick bowl out as he would have hours of extreme vomiting and eventually fall asleep.

‘This would often happen after he’d eaten too much or exerted himself. At this point Harry’s kidneys were functioning at 75% and he was on a lot of medication to try and stem the decline in his kidney function.

‘It was when Harry turned five years old that his health significantly deteriorated and his kidney function dropped to just 18%.

‘He was so poorly that the doctors suggested an intense chemotherapy session as a last chance to save his kidneys.

It was only when Harry was admitted to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital with a virus that a urine test showed he had issues with his kidneys. At the age of three, he had a biopsy and was diagnosed with focal segmental global glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) - a chronic kidney condition in both kidneys that would only get worse

It was only when Harry was admitted to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital with a virus that a urine test showed he had issues with his kidneys. At the age of three, he had a biopsy and was diagnosed with focal segmental global glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) - a chronic kidney condition in both kidneys that would only get worse

It was only when Harry was admitted to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital with a virus that a urine test showed he had issues with his kidneys. At the age of three, he had a biopsy and was diagnosed with focal segmental global glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) – a chronic kidney condition in both kidneys that would only get worse

‘Unfortunately this didn’t work and our little boy was in desperate need of a kidney as his kidney function dropped to 8%.’

Harry was discharged from hospital but spent two years on dialysis which he would need at home for 10 hours every night.

What is pooled kidney donation?

Pooled kidney donation is where two or more pairs of donors and recipients are involved in the swap.

There are around 100 children in the UK on the kidney transplant list – which meant Harry was on the list for 12 months without a single phone call.

Every quarter, the UK Living Kidney Sharing Scheme (UKLKSS) assesses the donors and recipients to see if there is a match.

These operations are co-ordinated so they are done at the same time.

Mr Weir added: ‘My wife and I had to be trained on how to administer the dialysis. It was so noisy and therefore everyone’s sleep was disrupted. It was tough on the whole family. My wife Karen and I hardly spent any time together.

‘Harry’s older brother Liam had a tough time, bless him, and I’ll never forget him coming into my bedroom one evening asking if Harry was going to die.’

As soon as Harry’s kidneys failed, his family were all tested to see if they were a match – and luckily his mother Karen was.

But a CT scan showed she had too many arteries in her kidneys which would make the operation too risky.

The family were given a lifeline when doctors suggested exploring pooled donation involving Mr Weir and another donor – where two or more pairs of donors and recipients are involved in the swap.

Mr Weir said there are around 100 children in the UK on the kidney transplant list, which meant Harry was on the list for 12 months without a single phone call.

The family were given a lifeline when doctors suggested exploring pooled donation involving Mr Weir and another donor - where two or more pairs of donors and recipients are involved in the swap. The operations were a success and Harry is now on the road to recovery

The family were given a lifeline when doctors suggested exploring pooled donation involving Mr Weir and another donor - where two or more pairs of donors and recipients are involved in the swap. The operations were a success and Harry is now on the road to recovery

The family were given a lifeline when doctors suggested exploring pooled donation involving Mr Weir and another donor – where two or more pairs of donors and recipients are involved in the swap. The operations were a success and Harry is now on the road to recovery

Every quarter, the UK Living Kidney Sharing Scheme (UKLKSS) assesses the donors and recipients to see if there is a match.

These operations are co-ordinated so they are done at the same time.

Mr Weir said: ‘We were all set to go, a week before Christmas, when we found out that our matched recipient wasn’t well enough to proceed. We had the choice to wait for another pair or wait for them to get better.

‘We decided to wait it out and within a few months we were ready to go again.’

Mr Weir admitted he didn’t really have time to think about undergoing the operation to remove his kidney.

He said: ‘My wife was at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children with Harry and I was at the Heath [University Hospital of Wales] in Cardiff. I was just so happy to be able to do something to help save Harry.’

All donations are anonymous and the only information accessible to recipients and donors is the gender, age, and location of their counterpart.

Mr Weir said: ‘We wrote a letter to both our donor and my recipient at the time but didn’t know that they were husband and wife.

‘Through our donor coordinator and with both our permission we swapped details and have been emailing ever since.

‘We are so thankful to them both – words cannot express what it has meant to us.

‘Hopefully we can arrange a meet-up in the future and come face to face with the family that changed our lives.’

Every year, more than 250 patients die waiting for a kidney transplant due to a shortage of organs.

People’s lives can be changed by a living donation, resulting in shorter waiting times, avoiding dialysis and making an improvement to the quality and length of someone’s life.

Mr Weir said: ‘Since the operation, Harry is a different child. He’s grown about four inches and at eight years old I still don’t think he has really understood the severity of the whole ordeal.

‘We are forever grateful to our donor family and the physical aftercare we received from the amazing doctors and nurses but there’s still work to be done.’

WHAT IS INVOLVED IN A KIDNEY TRANSPLANT?

The kidneys have several important functions in the body including filtering waste out of the bloodstream and eliminating excess water or toxins in the urine.

People need a kidney transplant if they have severe kidney disease or if the organ is failing.

To determine if someone is a match to donate a kidney, they have to have matching blood types with the receiver.

If this isn’t possible, doctors can lower the antibody levels in both people to see if the organ can still be a match.

Tissue typing tests (HLA) are taken to also determine if the body will reject or accept the intended donor organ.

Parents and siblings are 50 per cent likely to match with someone who needs a donation.

The numbers drop for people outside of the family.

But the most common way that people receive a kidney donation is from someone who has died.

And many people struggle to find a match that is suitable for them.

People can spend years on the transplant list and on dialysis while waiting for a donor match.

Like most surgical procedures, a kidney transplant can cause short-term risks such as blood clots and infection.

Long-term risks can be weight gain, high blood pressure and an increased risk of cancer.

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