Family is closer than blood but Richard Tibbetts didn’t mind adding a kidney to the mix when a relative’s health began to fail.
The 45 year-old, who repairs dialysis machines in Northwick Park Hospital’s Renal Unit, agreed to donate his left kidney when his uncle’s organs began to fail.
Richard said: “I’ve always been close to my uncle and it just seemed like the right thing to do. People said it was heroic but I don’t see it like that.
“There were a lot of tests but I turned out to be a perfect genetic match which is usually found in identical twins. I mean I’m close to Tom but not that close!”
So how is he coping with one kidney?
“I haven’t had to change anything and doctors told me that the remaining kidney usually grows larger over time to cope. I’ve no regrets and was just glad to help."
Richard, who spent several months recovering after being told to stay at home during the first wave of the pandemic, has just returned to work
“I’ve got to know a lot of the patients well over the years but sadly a few have passed away from the virus while I was off. It’s sobering not to see them but it’s good to be back and keeping busy.”
The unit, which is run by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, was recently involved in an innovative project with our trust where mobile dialysis machines were used to treat covid patients with kidney problems in intensive care.
Tariq Husain, Clinical Lead for Intensive Care, said: “There is always opportunity in crisis and the number of patients requiring Intensive Care and their illness severity was previously unimaginable.”
“There has been great focus on the damage this virus can do to the lungs but it can have a devastating impact on the heart and kidneys as well.”
The NX Stage dialysis machines have traditionally been used by patients in their own homes where they learn to dialysis themselves.
Richard added: “I repair the larger machines but it’s great that these smaller units are saving people’s lives.”
And how are Richard and his uncle recovering from their procedures?
“They say the recipient usually takes longer to recover than the donor but my uncle came to visit me the next day while I was still in bed feeling rough.
“I had something to say to him about that but we’re both doing fine now.”