A mother has given her seriously-ill son the ultimate gift for Christmas – one of her kidneys.
Rosalind Ruffhead donated the organ after her son, Thomas, was diagnosed with a progressive kidney disease where antibodies produced by the immune system cause irreversible damage.
The 54-year-old said Thomas first began to feel ill about two years ago and had high blood pressure.
Then it was discovered he had a protein in his urine, which indicated the disease IgA Nephropathy.
Rosalind said: “About one year ago it got more serious and his kidneys took a dive and deteriorated, so I offered my kidney.
“After various tests it was shown to be a good match. I had to lose more than three stone, through diet and exercise, to get to the point where I could donate.”
Mother and son were admitted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in November for the six-hour, life-saving operation.
Thomas, 29, from Shefford, stayed in for eight days, while Rosalind was discharged after just five days.
Rosalind said: “It was hard coming home and leaving him there, but the kidney kicked in straight away and there was an immediate change in him after the transplant. He had gone a bit grey, but now he is a lovely pink colour.”
Being a healthy donor, Rosalind’s remaining kidney will do the work of two, and other than an annual check up, she will live a normal life.
She said: “Actually, I feel good because I have lost the weight. I will maintain a healthy lifestyle and look after my remaining kidney.”
And Thomas’s future looks bright. With regular check ups and by taking daily medication, there should be no problems.
He said: “I can’t thank my mum enough. It’s given me a new lease of life.
“While I feel a lot better, it is very surreal for me. It’s hard to get my head round what has happened.”
The Ruffhead family are no strangers to kidney disease. Ten years ago, Rosalind’s husband Andrew had a transplant after both kidneys failed due to a genetic condition.
Now the family is urging people to sign the organ donor register and give the gift of life.
Rosalind said: “I am spending Christmas at my daughter’s, taking it easy and being spoiled. Thomas will be with his partner and family.
“We haven’t done much Christmas shopping, but no-one will mind.
“We are so grateful the transplant went well, and urge others to consider becoming organ donors.”
For more information about organ donation, go to www.organdonation.nhs.uk