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Sunday, January 24, 2016

How donating a kidney to a stranger inspired John Fletcher to launch a groundbreaking campaign

Independent | | Kate Hilpern

    Almost all of us have two kidneys and only need one, so are in a position to give the gift of life quite easily'

    John Fletcher, pictured near his home in Fife Martin Hunter

    “Truthfully, I don’t know how the idea came to me that I wanted to donate my kidney to a stranger, but there’s no doubt it’s one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done,” says John Fletcher, a 69-year-old vet from Fife, Scotland. “In fact, after I had recovered from the operation, I received a letter from the recipient – they are encouraged to write to the donor – via the hospital. The woman told me how it had enabled her to be a mother again to her five children. You can imagine how gratifying that was to hear.”

    This year, it’s 10 years since “altruistic” (a word John winces at because he feels the sense of fulfilment it provides means it’s anything but) kidney donation became legal and to mark it, he is leading a campaign to make Scotland the first country in the world where nobody need die waiting for a kidney.

    He knows it won’t be an easy ride. “When I first spoke to my GP about wanting to donate a kidney, he looked at me as if I was mad,” laughs John. “Some of my family were less than impressed, too, while the general reaction from others has been that there must be something a bit weird about me. It’s infuriating because almost all of us have two kidneys and only need one, which means the vast majority of us – even the elderly – are in a position to give the gift of life really quite easily.” Continue reading


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