Transplant of Faith; Jehovah's Witnesses in 'Bloodless' Kidney Swop

Daily Mail (London), March 14, 2000 | Go to article overview

Transplant of Faith; Jehovah's Witnesses in 'Bloodless' Kidney Swop


Byline: BEEZY MARSH;NICK CRAVEN

A JEHOVAH'S Witness has been given new life by his wife in a groundbreaking operation in which a kidney was transplanted from her to him without either having a blood transfusion.

Alfred Hoyle, 51, and his wife Marie were unable to receive blood because of their strict religious beliefs and knew they risked their lives without the option of transfusions being available to surgeons.

But the devoted couple were determined to go ahead before time ran out for Mr Hoyle, who has had to undergo kidney dialysis three times a week for nine years.

Surgeons at St James's Hospital in Leeds carried out the five-hour operation to remove a kidney from Mrs Hoyle and transplant it into her husband using a 'bloodless' technique pioneered at the hospital.

The hospital successfully carried out a liver transplant on a 19-year-old Jehovah's Witness earlier this year without using blood. But the Hoyles' 'live donor' operation was the first at the hospital in which the surgical team had the added complication that donor and recipient were not blood relatives, such as brother and sister.

In those cases, there is less chance of the recipient's body rejecting the donated organ because of the increased likelihood of a good tissue match.

With Mr Hoyle's health deteriorating and a shortage of donor organs, the couple feared further waiting could be fatal.

Mrs Hoyle decided to investigate the possibility of giving him one of her kidneys.

Against huge odds, she was found to be a suitable match for her husband.

But there remained the possibly fatal risks of each undergoing major surgery without blood.

Mrs Hoyle was to say later: 'I was in tears, not for myself, but at the enormity of what we wanted to do.' The Hoyles, who live in Bradford, decided to press ahead, however, and the operation took place last Friday.

Clasping his wife's hand as he recovered, Mr Hoyle said: 'I can't express what a loving thing, what a tremendous thing my wife has done in giving me a kidney.' Surgeon Steve Pollard, who led the operating team, said: 'We told them what we thought was possible, what makes it safe and less safe.

'I know there are some units which would not do the procedure under these circumstances but it is not us taking the risk, it is the patient.' The couple's two children, Rachel, 32, and Matthew, 30, have already noticed a difference in their father.

'As soon as we saw dad after the op there was colour in his cheeks and he was a new man,' Rachel said. 'Now it has all happened we are all just very relieved because dad's quality of life had begun to suffer tremendously from all his trips to hospital. …

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