Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

Spare Kidney Spares Life

Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

Spare Kidney Spares Life

Article excerpt

Byline: Sue Gardiner

THE four Prichard boys of Cudgen have always been close.

But when oldest sibling Matthew developed a life-threatening illness, their brotherly bond would save his life.

During a routine medical examination in 2007, Matthew, a farmer who runs a Cudgen Rd produce store, was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy.

The disorder involves the immune system attacking the kidneys, and results in organ failure for 90% of sufferers.

By early 2012, Matthew's kidney function had deteriorated to the point where life had become an uphill battle.

"It was like being hung over every day," the father of one recalls of the severe fatigue, nausea and fluid retention that plagued him.

He was told that he would likely suffer complete renal failure within five years.

He started kidney dialysis in May 2012, spending five hours at John Flynn Hospital three times a week.

Later he switched to home dialysis, which, while more convenient, took at least 12 hours a day.

At just 36, his only long-term hope for survival was a kidney transplant, with the effectiveness of dialysis limited to several years.

Matthew's name was added to the lengthy national deceased transplant donor list, and he was told it would likely take four years for an organ to become available.

Many patients die waiting, but Matthew had a huge advantage - his large family, who had already discussed the possibility of one of them becoming a live donor.

As Matthew's condition deteriorated, the boy's late mother, Cathy, was the first to put her hand up to be assessed for donor suitability.

But she was rejected.

Early last year, Matthew's three siblings, Tom, Henry and Joe, underwent a battery of tests, resulting in a nervous wait for the family.

The three made a pact that whoever was judged the best donor would unhesitatingly give up their spare kidney for their older brother.

"It was like winning the lottery," says Matthew's wife Jane of the results, which showed all three siblings were suitable matches. …

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