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Martin Baker is 47 and lives in Devon with his wife Jacqui, twins Marcus And Reece and daughter Isabella.

Here he shares his story and how his life was saved by a kidney share scheme

My kidney trouble started when I was baby….

I had Vesicoureteral Reflux. Basically, urine went back into my kidneys. One kidney stopped working straight away, while the other only worked 50%.

I spent most of my life in hospital until the age of eight. I had a brief spell on dialysis in 1978 to get me well enough to have my first kidney in 1979 from my Mum. As it was an adult kidney, it was put where it fitted. I had been so ill and I was very small. At eight, I was just the size of a four-year-old.

The surgery was risky but it paid off. My Mum’s kidney was a perfect match. Our story reached the papers at the time. That kidney lasted 34 years. I went into renal failure again in 2009. We lived on the Isle of Man at the time and our youngest was just weeks old. In 2010, we moved to Devon to have the support of my family.

My second transplant came in November 2011…

My brother and sister were both tested to see if they a match, but their bloods were too compatible to my Mum’s, so doctors and surgeons feared they would reject.

My friend Ian stepped forward and, when he wasn’t a match, we felt very worried for my future. My wife Jacqui asked the transplant team about the share scheme as she had read about it. The team were great and agreed to start discussions. They did explain that logistically this was not the easiest route. But after many meetings, it was agreed that myself and my friend Ian would go on the list. We joined in the August and a three-way match was found in the November.

Once you get the call

You speak with a person who makes sure the donor is not getting paid or gaining financially. They asked a lot of questions about our friendship and how we knew each other. They checked everyone was healthy, had no colds or coughs etc. For the hospitals, the next bit was challenging as all operations need to start at once, so no one can pull out and be left without a kidney.

The kidney share scheme has saved me

It has saved me from going back onto dialysis and has given me quality time with my family. It’s given me my life, really.

I have more energy now. My wife notices it more as she was the one that watched my deterioration. With a young family, I always tried my best but energy was low and the nasty symptoms that come with renal failure were kicking in. Now I coach my boys football team, I walk the dogs, I swim with my daughter.

I got my life back on track. I now work as a Physiotherapy Technical instructor for the NHS, so I feel I’m giving something back.

I was at the very first British Transplant Games in Portsmouth in 1978

I was just a spectator. I then competed throughout my childhood for Guy’s Hospital Children's team. As an adult, I first competed for Exeter, then moved to Newcastle and switched teams.

I am now back representing Exeter, but have not competed in the Games since I was 21, so 26 years ago!

I’m going back mainly to show my kids what the British Transplant Games is all about. I was asked by my renal nurse Karen, to have another go and I thought ‘why not?’

I love the atmosphere at the Opening Ceremony, and I will hopefully catch up with old friends from other teams and make new ones.


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