“It’s like lightning striking twice and I cannot believe how lucky I have been.”
Mark Bradley is recovering at home after undergoing a kidney transplant for the second time in his life.
And amazingly, both times his donor has been a close family member.
Mark’s daughter Georgia, 31, donated her left kidney to help her dad after discovering she was a perfect match.
And 24 years ago, it was Mark’s mum Evelyn’s turn to help out with a donation.
“It’s not often that you get one perfect match off a family member so to have two is amazing really,” said Mark, 54.
Both father and daughter are doing well after their surgery earlier this month, although there is still a long recovery period ahead for the pair.
Mark is taking anti-rejection tablets and easing his way back to fitness while Georgia hopes to return to work within the next few weeks.
“The first three months are critical for me,” Mark said.
Mark had his first transplant at the age of 30 after both his kidneys failed.
Coincidentally, his late father John was also forced to have a kidney transplant 27 years ago after being on dialysis for several years.
Mark was on dialysis for four months until his mum was able to donate one of her kidneys to him.
She is now 77 and living in Warton, and has suffered no ill effects of living with a single kidney.
Mark’s donated kidney started to slowly deteriorate five years ago, and last year it began to fail.
“They started doing tests about 12 months ago and then in April it got to the point where I thought I would have to go on dialysis, but I was given a steroid tablet to keep me going,” he said.
In June last year, Georgia was tested as a potential tissue match along with her mum Dawn and brother Lewis.
In the meantime, Mark was put on the National Donor Register just in case they didn’t match.
However, Georgia was found to be a perfect match and in July the family was told that the transplant would be going ahead on September 2.
The pair were taken into Manchester Royal Infirmary, with Georgia undergoing three hours of surgery to have her left kidney removed.
It was then transferred to Mark in a two-hour operation.
While Mark’s mum Evelyn had a major operation which left her with 48 stitches, medical advancements meant Georgia was able to have her operation done via keyhole surgery.
Georgia said: “They said they would only be cutting me enough to fit the surgeon’s hand in to remove my kidney, so when I was going down to theatre the first thing I did was look at the size of the surgeon’s hands!”
Mark was put in an isolation ward for the first couple of days after his operation, and as soon as Georgia was well enough she was able to see him.
Georgia was allowed back to the family home in Johnson Close, Crag Bank, within three days, with Mark following two days later. Mark, who has worked for United Utilities for 37 years, said: “My kidney had been failing so gradually that I was feeling quite fit and still played cricket until the Saturday before the operation.
“But within a week of having the transplant I realised just how ill I had been. Because I had kept fit it had helped a lot.
“I could tell within two or three days that I was much better. I had no headaches or feeling sick and could eat whatever I wanted.
“I am having check-ups twice a week at the moment but they are pleased with how it’s going and I feel absolutely brilliant.
“After six months I should start to feel back to what I should be. It’s early days but it’s going really well so far.
“Hopefully once everything settles down everything will be fine for years to come. My new kidney should work for 10 to 20 years.”
Georgia, who works as a service adviser at Lloyd South Lakes BMW, said: “I was excited but I was nervous as well. It’s hard to get my head around the fact that my dad has now got a part of me inside him which is helping him.
“I was only seven the first time around so I don’t remember much except going to the hospital to see him.
“It’s strange because while it’s made my dad better it will probably make me worse because my one kidney will have to work twice as hard.
“But it’s great to see dad feeling so much better. When we first went in to hospital for tests and I saw all the other people so poorly I decided I didn’t want him to end up like that.
“Seeing him now makes it all worthwhile.
“I signed up a few years ago to be an organ donor but I didn’t think I would be a live donor!
“I never thought I would be donating to my dad – it was very emotional, and I feel great to know how I have been able to help him.”
Mark said: “It’s strange to think that Georgia was a perfect match and my mum was as well. Obviously I have been very lucky because I was told the first one would last five to 10 years and it lasted 24 years.”
Without Georgia’s kidney, Mark would have had to have dialysis again, and faced up to four years on a waiting list for another kidney.
He said: “I can’t thank her enough, words cannot explain it. It’s a bit surreal how it’s come around again.
“I am very lucky – I have been lucky twice.”
* Mark and Georgia are planning to fundraise for kidneysforlife.org when both are feeling well enough. Anyone who wants to support the cause can also make a donation via the website.