Yorkshire nurse says why she donated a kidney to save complete stranger

Narinder Kaur who saved the life of a stranger by donating one of her kidneysNarinder Kaur who saved the life of a stranger by donating one of her kidneys
Narinder Kaur who saved the life of a stranger by donating one of her kidneys
Nurse Narinder Kaur donated a kidney to save the life of a complete stranger. During organ donation week she talks to Catherine Scott.

It was watching people die waiting for a kidney transplant that made Narinder Kaur determined to donate a kidney to save a complete stranger.

Narinder, from Bradford, became an altruistic kidney donor in December 2018. She was spurred on to donate her kidney after caring for renal patients while working as a student nurse at the Bradford Royal Infirmary’s renal medical ward 6.

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“I came to nursing late in life, at the age of 42, and I am six years qualified this month. I love my job. It brings me great fulfilment in life,” says Narinder.

Mohammed  whose brother donated a kidney the save himMohammed  whose brother donated a kidney the save him
Mohammed whose brother donated a kidney the save him

“During my second year of nurse training in 2013, I worked on the renal medical ward and was inspired by the patients and staff. The people I met there left a lasting impression on me and I chose to work there immediately after graduating.

“After doing my own research privately I’ve always believed you can lead a perfectly normal life with just one kidney, and while working on the renal ward straight after nurse qualification, I picked up a leaflet one day about altruistic donors and it sparked a big interest. The more I thought about it the more it made sense and I wanted to do it, it stayed in my heart and soul. I wanted to convert these thoughts into actions, I am a great believer in actions being louder than words.”

Narinder was well aware that patients from a Black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) background wait far longer than white British patients due to the need to match organs with blood and tissue type.

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“Everyone knows that if you if you are waiting for an organ transplant and come from a BAME background you’re more likely to languish on the organ transplant list and I saw many people who died waiting for the transplant that never came.

“Since I started nursing I have always had a secret desire to donate a kidney because I wanted to help someone else who wasn’t as fortunate as me health-wise. I just wanted to do something worthwhile and give something back to the universe.”

Narinder contacted Bradford renal consultant, John Stoves, and following initial tests and a physiological assessment at St Luke’s Hospital, was referred for more thorough medical examinations at St James’ Hospital in Leeds where the regional kidney transplant centre is based. “After many weeks of waiting for the tests to be completed, I finally got the word ‘Congrats Narinder, we’ve found a match and you are someone’s golden ticket to a new lease of life!’”

In December 2018, Narinder donated her kidney to a young man who had been poorly with chronic kidney disease.

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“I insisted that I didn’t want to meet him as I said ‘No, I’m not doing this for me, I’m doing it for the greater good and I don’t need the thanks or the attention.

“Hearing from the transplant co-ordinator that my kidney had worked immediately for the recipient, and he was not just surviving but thriving was all I needed to know.”

Narinder still attends hospital for yearly check-ups as part of the NHS’s aftercare service to altruistic donors.

She is telling her story because she wants to inspire others within Bradford to consider either altruistic or living related transplants.

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“There is a big need for organs within our community and unless people hear about my story, they may not know that you can do this. Being able to give one of my kidneys to another person, who may have eventually died if they had not received this organ, is being able to give the gift of life. I am living proof that you can live well with one kidney …so why not stop the suffering of those who stay on the transplant list through no fault of their own.”

Clinical Lead for Organ Donation at BTHFT, consultant anaesthetist, Dr Andy Baker, said: “We desperately need more people in Bradford to talk about organ donation to increase the number of life-saving transplants. These conversations are especially important for those in our south Asian community.

People from these communities are more likely to need a transplant and they will often have to wait longer on the list as the best match is to receive a donated organ from someone of the same ethnicity.”

Mohammed Islam, 44, from Bradford received a life-saving transplant from his younger brother in July 2013 (when he was aged 36) after being placed on the transplant list following the discovery that he was suffering from an auto-immune disorder that was damaging his kidneys.

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“I was basically told by my renal consultant that because of my rare blood type (because I am from a south Asian background) not to expect a transplant any time soon. I languished on the list for about eight or nine months, until my younger brother asked if he could donate his kidney to me.

“At first I refused to let him put his life on the line for me, but he turned round and asked me, ‘If it was the other way round and it was me on the transplant list, would you donate your kidney to me?’ And I replied, ‘I would, in a heartbeat.’ And he said: ‘There you go then, have confidence in me’. We never looked back.

“Having a new kidney has been absolutely amazing – it has given me a new lease of life and I’ve never looked back. I would encourage people – especially those from the south Asian community here in Bradford to consider living-related donations – receiving a kidney from a member of your own family is the best match that you can get and it gives you the best chance and best outcome for a fantastic quality of life going forward. I will be forever grateful to my younger brother for his gift to me.”


Organ Donation Week continues until September 13.

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