This month the Lancashire Evening Post revealed the success of our “Lancashire: Giving the gift of life” campaign as almost 30,000 people from the county have registered to donate their organs after death in the past year.
AASMA DAY talks to the family of a man who was saved by a kidney donated by his son-in-law - but died less than a year later from a rare cancer.
Lisa Crawford sums up the feeling of her family following the sudden death of her dad Steve Walton only weeks after he was diagnosed with a rare cancer.
‘‘Some people might say it was a waste that my husband donated one of his kidneys to my dad only for him to die a year later, but we don’t see it like that at all and have absolutely no regrets.’’
Steve Walton, 62, who lived in Leyland with wife Cath, underwent a kidney transplant in January last year after more than a decade of battling kidney disease.
Steve’s kidneys function deteriorated so much that they were only functioning at six per cent and he was on dialysis and put on the waiting list for a transplant.
Steve was deeply touched when his son-in-law Ryan Crawford, who is married to his daughter Lisa, offered to give him one of his kidneys.
Steve’s wife Cath had already put herself forward to be tested and other family members and friends also proved to be the wrong blood type.
However, Ryan insisted on being tested and doctors discovered the pair couldn’t have been a better match than if they’d been siblings.
The transplant went ahead in January last year and was a success and both Steve and Ryan recovered amazingly well.
Steve regained his quality of life and his latest check-up revealed his kidney was functioning at 76 per cent – which is amazing for just one kidney.
However, out of the blue, Steve was diagnosed with a rare cancer and underwent surgery. Tests showed the cancer had spread through his body and he died on Friday December 23, only weeks after diagnosis.
Daughter Lisa, 40, explains: “My dad was absolutely fine and was doing really well and his new kidney was functioning better than it ever had.
“His kidney was functioning at 76 per cent, which for one kidney is brilliant.
“This January would have been the first anniversary of the transplant after my husband Ryan donated his kidney to my dad. I also turned 40 this January so we were planning a celebration to mark both these milestones.”
The bombshell came a couple of months ago when Steve began experiencing pains in the groin area but initially thought it was caused by a cycling injury.
Lisa says: “My dad had started going cycling with Ryan to get his fitness back up.
“He thought he must have hurt himself while cycling when he began experiencing discomfort in the groin area. He had a lesion which he thought was from the cycling.
“My dad went to the doctors and was given antibiotics but they had no affect. He then had shooting pains and was told to go to A&E.”
Steve was diagnosed with penile cancer which only affects around 550 men each year.
Steve underwent surgery and doctors revealed that they had not managed to get all the cancer and that Steve would probably need radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
But then a scan revealed the cancer had spread to Steve’s groin, stomach and lungs, and medics told him there was nothing else they could do and he was given three to six months to live.
Devastated by the news, Ryan arranged to take his father-in-law who was a huge Manchester United fan to see his team for a final game at Old Trafford against Watford and arranged a museum package to make it a day to remember. Sadly, Steve didn’t manage to make the three to six months prognosis as he got a blood clot and deteriorated before losing his fight on December 23.
Ryan, 45, says: “It is such a shame and very sad and all happened so quickly.
“Steve was such a sterling guy and I wish we could have done that last thing for him with the football match before he passed away.”
Steve was a loving husband to Cath and a dad to Lisa, Antony and Aden and grandad to Rorey.
Lisa says after everything dad went through with the kidney disease and transplant, it seems so unfair that his life was then taken by a rare cancer.
But she says the family are trying not to dwell on the negatives as she knows her dad would not have wanted this.
Lisa says: “My dad would not have wanted to deteriorate and for us to see him unwell.
“He would have hated being sat at home being ill.
“Even when he was going through dialysis and then the transplant, he never let us know he was suffering and showed such bravery and dignity.
“The only thing he was bothered about was making sure the rest of the family were all right. My dad was such a positive and upbeat person. His reaction when he found out he had terminal cancer was: ‘Well we all have to die some time don’t we? I just happen to know when I will go.’
“He was never full of doom and gloom. He never felt sorry for himself or asked: ‘Why me?’”
Steve was an active member of the Lancashire and South Cumbria Kidney Patients Association and would talk to people about to go on dialysis or have a transplant to talk them through his experience.
He had also organised a charity night at Leyland Golf Club in March to raise funds for the Lancashire and South Cumbria Kidney Patients Association and his family will be going ahead with it in his honour.
Lisa says: “My dad will be sadly missed but we all hope to continue the good work he has done in supporting kidney patients and promoting the importance of organ donation.
“What has happened with the cancer is tragic and feels unfair at times but we are all focusing on the positive and the good times that the past 12 months have brought.
“We are so proud of our dad and he would want us to hold our heads up and be strong.
“The staff at Preston Hospital, the Manchester Royal Infirmary and Christies have all been fantastic and we can’t thank them enough for the care they took of my dad.”
Lisa says some people might think Ryan giving her dad a kidney was a “waste” as he died a year later, but Ryan and the rest of the family have no regrets.
Lisa says: “No one knows what is around the corner and from our perspective, Ryan giving my dad a kidney definitely wasn’t a waste as it gave my dad 12 months of not being on dialysis and the freedom of being able to do things again.
“My dad got his quality of life back and he and my mum bought a caravan and enjoyed going away.
“My dad was well for 12 months and was going out on his bike and enjoying life and did not feel ill. We have absolutely no regrets about Ryan giving my dad his kidney.”
Ryan says: “If people have family members or friends waiting for a transplant, they shouldn’t be afraid to step up and offer one of their kidneys. The difference it makes not only to the recipient but also their families is life changing.”
l The charity fundraiser disco will be held at Leyland Golf Club on Saturday, March 4 from 7.30pm to midnight. Tickets are £25 and include a hot pot supper. There will also be an auction, raffles and prizes.
For more details, call Lisa on: 07896 940700 or Ryan on: 07432 569704.