A YOUNG Burnley woman who has battled a debilitating disease for the last seven years has been given a new chance at life after her sister gave her the ultimate gift – a new kidney.
Alix Walmsley (23) was diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune illness, when she was just 16. The condition made her constantly tired, affected her muscles and joints and some days she was unable to get out of bed.
After a few months doctors told Alix, of Scott Park Road, that the lupus was attacking her kidneys. Following several stints in hospital over the next few years, which included a week in intensive care in March last year, and taking up to 30 tablets a day, Alix was told she would need a kidney transplant.
Faced with a donor waiting list of up to seven years, the prospect of gruelling dialysis three times a week and Alix’s kidney function down to just 6%, her younger sister Georgia (21) volunteered to donate one of her kidneys.
Mum Jo (55) manager at Yarnspinners Primary Health Care Centre in Nelson, said: “It was a nightmare. I thought she was going to go at one point.”
After another spell in hospital in November last year Jo said it became clear that Alix would need a new kidney.
“It was clear she wasn’t going to be bouncing back. Her blood pressure went out of control and every time that happened it affected her kidneys. It was like a pressure cooker. My husband Jack (58) and I thought one of us would be donating a kidney.”
But, unbeknown to her family, after accompanying her sister on a visit to the doctors, Georgia filled out the paperwork needed to become a kidney donor and, after undergoing the necessary tests, she was found to be an ideal match.
On July 24th one of Georgia’s kidneys was transplanted into Alix at St James’s Hospital in Leeds.
Georgia has now returned to complete the final year of her events management degree at Leeds Metropolitan University while Alix, who amazingly managed to complete her HND in hospitality at the same university despite her illness, has gone back to working a few hours a week at the Oaks Hotel in Reedley and is looking forward to the future and pursuing her dream of working in America.
Her kidney function has now risen to the near-perfect level of 97% and she has been told the new kidney should help to get rid of the lupus.
“It’s been life changing,” said Alix.
“I’m not as tired as I was, everyone says I’ve got more colour and I’ve got more go in me. I want to do more. It’s the best thing Georgia could’ve done.”
Georgia added: “I did it to give Alix a better quality of life. That was the main thing, I never really thought twice about it. It’s the best gift you can give someone.”
And she urged more people to carry a donor card and join the organ donor register.
“You can change someone’s life,” she said.