My wife gave me a second chance at life

When Dave Horner from Rotherham was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease two years ago, it didn’t come as a surprise.

The 43-year-old dad of two had grown up watching his own father suffer with the condition, enduring years of debilitating renal dialysis and as such, his own health been monitored closely since the age of 18.

But when doctors told Dave that his kidney function had dropped to a level where dialysis or a transplant were his only options, his wife Karina decided to give him the ultimate gift – her own kidney.

“I went from being a very active person, managing and coaching two children’s football teams, running round after our own two kids and working full time to not being able to stay awake,” said Dave.

“My dad had also been an active man, and while dialysis was what kept him alive I had seen how it had also kept him tied to a machine three times a week. I didn’t want that, so a transplant was my only hope.

“My wife decided that she wanted to donate one of her kidneys to me. I wasn’t happy about it – we have two young children and I didn’t want both of us to be going through such a major procedure at our age – but she insisted, saying she wanted to give me a second chance at life.”

Dave and Karina underwent the transplant at Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital in February 2011.

“The transplant team at the hospital were amazing,” said Dave, “I was very concerned about Karina losing a kidney but they reassured me that her other one would increase its function and that her health wouldn“t be affected.

“After the transplant the difference was amazing. The first sign of improvement was in the whites of my eyes – they’d been discoloured for years, but now they were bright and clear. The colour of my skin also improved and soon, I felt as though I could run a marathon – it was fantastic.

“Karina recovered quickly and since then, our quality of life has been wonderful. I’m back coaching and managing both my son and daughter’s football teams and being a fit and active dad once again.”

Dave, who works as an account manager at JobCentrePlus, is also putting his new lease of life to good use by signing up for next year’s Westfield Health British Transplant Games in Sheffield.

“I was so lucky to have had Karina there and for her kidney to have been a good match for me,” he said.

“However, many people are not so lucky and have to wait months if not years for an organ. And, some people, like my dad, never get that second chance.

“That’s why I’ve joined the Sheffield team for the Games next year – to help promote the benefits of transplantation and to encourage more people from our region to add their names to the donor register.

“Karina has given me a second chance at life and I want to put it to good use. The more names on the Donor Register, the more second chances that can be given.”

Karina added: “I had said for years that Dave could have one of my kidneys when he needed one, and as Dave’s health declined I had no doubts to go ahead with the donation.

“Our family and friends were very supportive and helped us through it, and our children Kieran and Amy were our focus. Life with Dave on dialysis would have affected our overall family quality of life.

“Leading up to the transplant Dave’s health continued to decline and every day activities became a struggle for him, but after his transplant the change in his health was immediate and just a few months later we were both back on our feet.

“We are so lucky to have a normal family life again and I can’t wait to see him compete in the Games next year.”