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Scots dad saves son’s life after donating kidney following horror diagnosis

James and Craig post transplant xjpeg
James and Craig post transplant xjpeg

In West Lothian, a father came to his son’s rescue by donating his kidney after his son was diagnosed with an incurable kidney disease.

28-year-old Craig MacDonald was struck with chronic kidney disease, leading to a shocking 92% reduction in his kidney function. Attempting to save him from a life tied to a dialysis machine, his parents, elder sister and numerous other family members stepped up to donate a kidney. Fortunately, his father, James, was found to be a match.

Residing in Livingston, this father-son duo underwent the life-altering transplant surgery at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh in February of the previous year.

Sharing his thoughts on the operation, James MacDonald, a 57-year-old manufacturer at a packaging company, said, “Craig and I share a strong bond. We’ve worked together for many years and I wanted to give Craig his life back. I didn’t think twice about it, and I believe any father would wish the same for their child.”

Craig mirrored these sentiments, expressing his gratitude towards his family, his father, and the transplant team for preserving his life. He felt this life-changing experience brought him and his father even close.

James and Craig before their transplant

Delving into Craig’s history with kidney health, it dates back to his childhood, however, the symptoms only became evident during a family holiday in 2021. Noticing his swollen ankles, his mother urged him to consult a doctor.

Upon consulting his GP, he was immediately admitted to St John’s Hospital in Livingston due to alarmingly high levels of blood pressure, posing a potential risk of a stroke.

Fast forward to November 2021, Craig was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy and by October 2022, he was put on dialysis.

Reflecting on this daunting period, Craig shares, “It was quite frightening being hospitalized so abruptly and learning that my kidney function was rapidly deteriorating. The fact that I felt fairly normal made it even more unsettling. I felt too young to face such a predicament and had so much more to accomplish in life.”

Following detailed analysis, James was identified as the most compatible donor leading to the family preparing for the life-saving kidney transplant in 2023.

While the prospect of both her husband and son being in surgery left Carol, Craig’s mother, feeling helpless. She shared that she paced anxiously around the hospital corridors, waiting for an update on their condition.

Thankfully, the procedure proved to be successful and within days Craig’s health showed visible improvement.

Craig, 28 after his transplant

Reliving the days following the surgery, James stated, “He appeared markedly healthier post-surgery– his joy was evident. Prior to the operation, his kidneys were operating at an 8% function, and just a day post-surgery, his kidneys were functioning at 21%. It was unbelievable. Witnessing him return to health and happiness was the greatest reward I could have asked for.”

Commensurate with the celebration of World Kidney Day, Craig has made a complete recovery, rejoined work with his father and their bond as golfing buddies is stronger than ever.

Craig declared, “I’m now sparkling with the freedom to do what I want and finally live a normal life. Not too long ago, I went on a golfing holiday with my dad and this experience has rekindled a desire to explore the world. I’ve been blessed with a second chance and I intend on cherishing each minute.”

The MacDonald family at the Glasgow kidney walk last year

Adding to this inspiring success story, Nina Kunkel-Howden, the Live Donor Transplant Coordinator from NHS Lothian, commented, “Craig’s journey is a potent example of the transformative power of living kidney donations. Living donors indeed change lives. We wish him and his family the best of future health.”

Learn more about organ donation and its benefits by visiting the Living Donation Scotland website.

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