Organ donation: Harrogate woman shares experience of life after saving mother from kidney failure

Jo Lister with mum Patricia Lister
Jo Lister with mum Patricia Lister
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A daughter who saved her mum’s life by donating a kidney is dispelling fears and appealing to the public to sign up as organ donors after the first anniversary of her surgery.

Jo Lister was the only member of her family who could help her mum, Patricia Lister, from succumbing to Polycystic Kidney Disease, an illness that can lead to kidney failure.

Not knowing what life would be like with one kidney, the effect it would have on bearing children or even how it would physically feel, Jo was terrified.

But the surgery transformed both Jo and her mother’s lives and now she is campaigning for people to sign up as donors.

Ms Lister said: “I want my positive experience to encourage anyone who is to go through the same situation I have been through.

“When I first started going through this I was fearful, what if I wanted to have a child and they inherited this disease, I would not be able to give a kidney to them. There is so much fear with the unknown, and to know it will be okay and know about the whole experience I think it could make such a difference for people in that position.

“I wouldn’t change anything about what I did, I want to in fact share my experience so that people in that situation, maybe who are in doubt, know that it will be okay.

“Today I live a completely normal life with one kidney, I can do anything, I can have a family and nothing is stopping me from doing anything I can think of, whether it is drinking wine or travelling. In the end I have been able to do something really special.”

Thanking NHS staff Jo described the kind of support that is in place for people who do donate.

Ms Lister said: “I can’t explain how good they were to the organ donors, everyone kept on telling me special a thing it was that I had done.”

Nationally there were 5,000 people on a waiting list for a kidney donation in February of this year according to the NHS Blood and Transplant and partner charity, Give a Kidney.

Since her surgery Jo’s HR consultancy work has enabled her to co-ordinate with the League Against Cruel Sports, whose CEO Eduardo Goncalves donated had kidney to his own son, to encourage staff there to sign up as donors.

Sharing both of their stories the pair managed to sign up nearly all of the organisations staff as organ donors.

Following this Jo made an emotional appeal for support by posting a video on Facebook during National Transplant Week, an annual awareness week held every year since 2009.

Now viewed over 8,000 times Jo was touched to see messages from people saying they would now sign up to register as donors.

Ms Lister said: “This is a success story and I want to spread the word about it, there is a lot out there about opting out of organ donation which many people do not agree with and there is a big debate about it.

“But some people do this for complete strangers, and they deserve medals for it, for me they are was no option - this was family.”