Transplant patient seeks second donor
Lorraine Harper was delighted to be able to present a cheque for £1,000 to the Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund.
Mrs Harper held a joint party for her 50th birthday with her father, Ben Stewart, who was celebrating his 80th, at her Ballymullock Road home, for more than 80 family and friends.
The charity is one very close to Lorraine’s heart and to those who know her, as she suffers from polycystic kidney disease and has spent the last nine years on dialysis.
This takes place at her home, every second day, for four hours, assisted by her husband William.
Lorraine was diagnosed with the condition when she was 20 years old, after she was found to be suffering from high blood pressure.
When scanned, it was discovered that she had cysts on her kidneys.
She was given her first kidney transplant at the City Hospital in Belfast in 1993, after just a few months of dialysis.
“I was all right for 12 to 13 years and then deterioriated and had to commence dialysis. I am now in my ninth year of dialysis,” Lorraine said.
Despite the gruelling regime, Lorraine still manages to work part-time as a health care assistant.
But she admits her quality of life is severely affected by the condition.
“It restricts everything. For example, my diet is very restricted.
“My fluid intake is restricted to just 600ml a day. I am also worried about infections,” said Lorraine.
However, she is determined to “work round it” as best as possible.
She went on to say that she now requires a second transplant.
“I will be harder to match this time because of the antibodies from the previous transplant. The tissue and blood type have to be right.
“If it is not a match, there is a high chance of infection.”
Lorraine says that despite the constant dialysis, her health is “relatively good” and recently the couple ventured a holiday in Europe for the first time in years.
However, the trip to Germany was not complete without a trip to hospital for dialysis.
Lorraine remains hopeful of a transplant. Family members and friends have already been tested to see if they are a match.
To date, however, the search has proved fruitless.
“I am still hopeful of a match. Medicine has moved on a lot with research into new drugs. I am positive it will come. You have to be.
“It would be a complete transformation. The life change it makes to someone is unbelievable.
“Organs don’t just come from deceased donors. The success rate is high in most cases with a living donor,” she said.