A stranger gave me the gift of life

WOMAN'S OWN|July 06, 2020

 A stranger gave me the gift of life
Desperate for help, Angela Shannon, 44, turned to social media...
SASKIA MURPHY AND JACK FALBER

Opening up a Facebook message on my phone, I tried to work out who had sent it. I didn’t recognise the woman’s name – and clicking on her profile, I realised she was a complete stranger. Reading the words, a lump formed in my throat. ‘The kidney is yours,’ she’d written. It was August 2016 and I’d known for two years that I’d need a new kidney to survive, but now a stranger was offering to give me hers. I felt like I was dreaming.

For as long as I could remember, my life had been defined by my poor health. I was born with a congenital defect in my urinary tract. My right kidney failed when I was a baby, and my left kidney had low function. My earliest memories are of staying on the children’s ward at Dundee Royal Infirmary, listening out for the familiar clack, clack, clack of my mum Irene’s high heels as she came to visit me in between her own shifts as a nurse.

It wasn’t until I reached my teen years when I truly started to realise how different I was. My condition meant I needed a catheter and I was worried it would put boys off – but when I was 15, I met Paul, who was the same age, and he wasn’t fazed. We moved in together in February 1994, when I was 19, but by then my kidney function was lower than ever, at just 25%, and doctors told me I would need a transplant.

‘I’m your donor,’ Mum, then 43, said every time the word transplant was mentioned. I was so grateful to her, but I still dreaded the day when that would become my only option.

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July 06, 2020