How a father gave his daughter from Desborough the gift of life with his own kidney

Now they are both urging other families to support National Organ Donation Week this week (Monday September 20 - Sunday 26 September)

Monday, 20th September 2021, 9:17 am
Updated Monday, 20th September 2021, 2:44 pm
Caption: Kathryn and her father Kevin Abraham hug at her wedding in 2017.

This beautiful wedding picture of a father daughter embrace tells a tale of bravery and gratitude.

Kathryn Croker from Desborough desperately needed a kidney transplant - and it was her own dad who stepped forward and changed her life.

A few years later, she married her partner Luke - and is forever grateful to her father for the gift of life.

Now she is urging people to support National Organ Donation Week this week (Monday September 20 - Sunday September 26).

The 35-year-old is asking local families to discuss organ donation and make their views known to one another after joining Kettering General Hospital’s Organ and Tissue Donation Committee in May 2021.

She strongly believes that people need to be clear on their wishes now that, since May 2020, England has an opt-out system which better supports donation, but still requires families to consent in the event of a person’s death.

Kathryn, who married Luke four years ago, had her life transformed by organ donation in 2013 when her dad, Kevin Abraham, from Rushton, underwent an operation to remove his kidney so it could be transplanted into her.

At the time Kathryn’s kidney function was down to four per cent and she was on dialysis and not doing well.

She said: “When I was 12 I was diagnosed with Henoch Schonlein Purpura (HSP) - a condition that causes the small blood vessels in your skin, joints, intestines, and kidneys to become inflamed and bleed. Over time the condition caused my kidneys to fail.

“By the time I was 26, in 2012, I was really struggling. I was tired all the time – so much so that I had to rest my arms in stages while using a hairdryer.

“I had a very restricted diet, got out of breath really easily, and had swollen legs and feet. My kidney function was down four per cent, I was on dialysis, and it was clear I needed an organ transplant.”

Both her mum, Anne, and dad, Kevin, had tests and were found to be matches.

Kevin, 66, a retired contracts manager, was given the all clear to give the donation, and did so at Leicester General Hospital in May 2013.

He said: “I knew I wanted to do it. I was excited because I knew it would make such a big difference to Kathryn.

“I think the point of National Organ Donation Week is for us all to stop and think what it would mean to be clear on our intentions around donation.

“It is rare to be a living donor like myself but most people, in the event of their death, can give life to others through organ and tissue donation. It is the most incredible gift and my daughter is living proof of that.”

Kathryn said: “It transformed my life. The change was amazing. I could do things again without being dragged down by tiredness and having to have dialysis.

“I still need to take medication and have check-ups but I am able to work again and doing normal things without worrying – except during the last 18 months when I have had to shield during the pandemic.

"I am just so grateful to my dad for his courage, love and support.”

Kathryn joined Kettering General Hospital’s Organ and Tissue Donation Committee because she is so passionate about the importance of organ donation.

She is also a volunteer community ambassador for Kidney Research UK and part of an online group called Share Your Wishes that raises awareness across social media of the importance of sharing your organ donation wishes with your family.

She said: “This week is that time to have that conversation with your loved ones about your wishes around organ donation.

“It is so important. In the event of your death it makes it easier for your family to consent to donation and you may be able to go on to save – or transform – the lives of eight or more people on the national organ donation waiting list.”

Kettering General Hospital’s Organ and Tissue Donation Chair Shirley Newman said: “This year we are raising awareness of both organ and tissue donation encouraging people to talk to their families to ‘Leave Them Certain’ of their wishes in the event of your death. We are also raising awareness of the less well known living donations through Kathryn’s story.

“During the week itself we are raising awareness within the hospital from Monday to Friday with a stand manned by members of the committee and volunteers. On Wednesday September 22 we have a socially-distanced marquee set up outside with a free raffle, cakes, and tea and coffee, for anyone who pops along to say hello and learn more about organ donation.

“Our Committee are also looking at contacting schools in our area to offer a talk from Nicola Lee, mother of organ donor Miriam Lee, to support the new blood, organ and stem cell donation education now on the PSHE curriculum in Secondary Schools since September 2021.”

To register your decision around organ donation – and receive advice on how to tell your family about your wishes- go to: https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/register-your-decision/