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Above: Geoff with 31-year-old son Andy
When it looked like Geoff Walker’s daughter would need a kidney transplant, there was no question about what he would do.
Straight away, 63-year-old Geoff, an activity coordinator at Caswell Clinic in Bridgend, offered to donate one of his.
“About two years ago, we learned that one of our daughters was showing signs of renal problems due to a condition known as Sjogren's Syndrome,” Geoff explained.
“When we learned a transplant might be needed, a few of the family stepped up to the plate.
“Thankfully, the urgency receded somewhat and she doesn’t need a transplant, at least for now.
“But having made the decision that it was ok to donate a kidney, I thought ‘why wouldn’t I do it for somebody else?’”
It’s not often that someone decides to make what is known as an altruistic donation like Geoff has.
According to NHS Blood and Transplant, in 2018 just 66 people donated a kidney to a stranger.
Geoff’s donation will start what is known as a cascade. His kidney will go to a person in need of a transplant who has a friend or family member who is also willing to donate.
This friend or family member’s kidney will then go to another recipient in need who also has a friend or family member who then donates a kidney to another stranger.
This chain of donations means that more than one life will be transformed or saved thanks to Geoff’s original donation.
It’s been 18 months since he first decided to donate his kidney altruistically. He has since undergone extensive medical tests, fitness assessments and psychological evaluations to be accepted as a donor.
Now - after a match was found in October – Geoff, from Bridgend, is due to have his kidney removed tomorrow (December 4).
“Once I’d got that point in my head where I knew it was ok to give it away, I thought I’d proceed and do an altruistic donation,” Geoff said.
“At first I felt a little bit of trepidation but I’ve now lived with knowing that I am going to do this for 15 months. It’s become part of my daily life, just like going to work.
“The live donor team at University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, has been at my side the whole time. Everyone at work – managers and colleagues - has been massively supportive of what I’m doing too.
“From the start they’ve been 100 per cent behind me, and happy to cover me while I take the time to recuperate.”
But Geoff’s selflessness isn’t stopping with his donation – along with son Andy, 31, he will be running the London Marathon next year as part of Kidney Research UK’s #TEAMKIDNEY.
“I have been training towards the London Marathon for around six months now and, should my post-op recovery go to plan, I will have around three and a half months’ training after the donation before the race,” Geoff said.
“As far as I know I will be the only recent altruistic donor to run in the London Marathon 2020.”
To donate to Kidney Research UK for Geoff and Andy, visit this page.