Source: London Evening Standard
Chris Brent and sister Lisa
“Incredible exchange”: Chris Brent’s sister Lisa, right, donated a kidney in a three-way organ swap involving six operations

My sister gave her kidney to a stranger so I could live again

Peter Dominiczak

Chris Brent, 42, from Bexleyheath, was involved in the three-way organ swap after matches were found on a national database for patients who each had a loved one willing to give a kidney to a stranger.
A man who received a kidney during a set of six linked operations across the country hailed the innovative treatment today for saving his life.

It involved flying organs between London and Edinburgh for the simultaneous operations at three hospitals. Each patient received a kidney from a stranger who in turn had a loved one who gave a kidney to a stranger.

It is believed to be only the second three-way transplant since the Human Tissue Act made such operations legal in 2004. Previously patients were not allowed to donate organs to people they did not know.

Mr Brent, a former sound engineer, had been waiting for a kidney for seven years before finding out about the possibility of the three-way swap. He is the first person to speak out about this kind of operation and said that the change to the law “would give thousands of patients the chance for a new life”.

During the operations, it is understood that Mr Brent's sister Lisa Burton, 45, of East Sussex, donated a kidney to Tim Thakrar, 32, of Hertfordshire.

Mr Thakrar's wife Linsey then donated a kidney to Andrea Mullen, 54, of Aberdeen. To complete the circle Mrs Mullen's husband Andrew, 53, then donated a kidney to Mr Brent.

The surgical teams acted under strict guidelines and the participants were not allowed to know anything about any of the others before the transplants took place. Their identities have been released more than three months after the operations took place in Edinburgh and two London hospitals on 4 December.

Mr Brent said: “I had been waiting seven long years. I had kidney failure when I was 18 and had my first transplant when I was 19. It lasted 16 years but when it started to fail, it was a huge shock.

“Having had a previous transplant meant that it was even more difficult to find a match. My sister took the test but when we found out she wasn't a match it was devastating.

"The last seven years were the worst of my life. I was pretty much immobile and had to travel to hospital for dialysis three times every week. I used to do 70-hour weeks at work but I couldn't keep up with the pace and had to leave.

"When I found out about the swap, it felt like someone gave me my life back.”

Mr Brent welcomed the change in the law that allowed the transplants to take place. He said: “It finally made this kind of incredible exchange possible. It has saved my life and I hope it will save many more people over the years.

“I've been given a third chance at life. It is an amazing feeling. It's a no-brainer that this type of transplant should be allowed. People need to know that this type of life-saving operation is now a possibility.”

Everyone taking part in “living donor” transplants must be put through medical and psychological tests. Checks are also carried out to ensure they are not being coerced.