One of the longest surviving transplant patients turns 80

One of Northern Ireland’s longest surviving kidney transplant patients, Bob Arnott celebrated his 80th birthday, recently.

Bob Arnott MBE, from Drumbeg, who received a kidney transplant 44 years ago, has celebrated his 80th birthday. US1523-545cd Picture: Cliff Donaldson

The Drumbeg man received his transplant back in 1971, 11 years after the first successful transplant in the United Kingdom, and is now believed to be one of the oldest people in Northern Ireland and the tenth oldest kidney transplant survivor in the world.

One of the founding members of the Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund and Transplant Games, Bob was awarded an MBE in 2012 for his hard work and fundraising. To date the group has raised up to £7m.

His (May 28) birthday celebrations were a low key affair, with a family trip to Roe Valley.

The former engineer, got his kidney transplant at Belfast City Hospital 44 years ago, after he suffered high blood pressure with only six weeks on dialysis.

After receiving his transplant on January 31, 1971 he never looked back.

“I just got on with my life,” said Bob. “I never dwelled on ‘what if’s’ and just wanted to be fairly optimistic. I had a young family and wanted to live my life to the full.

“I never really wanted to find out who the person was who donated their kidney. All I knew was that it was from London. I am in the frame of mind that if someone donated their blood to me I would not try to find out who they were so never really felt the need to find out anything about the history of ’my’ kidney.”

Instead he thanked his donor in other ways by working tirelessly for the fund he helped set up.

The Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund helps to promote research into the causes, prevention and possible cures for kidney disease

Since 1968 there have been over 1500 transplants carried out in the Belfast City Hospital, with an average of 73 being carried out each year.

In 2011 there were 260 patients on the register waiting for transplant.