Double celebration for Sally as she reaches 20th anniversary of kidney transplant and 70th birthday in the same week!
Sally Sutton, who was awarded an MBE for services to the conservation of church monuments – and still works as an author to this day – marked these incredible milestones in July, albeit under the shadow of the Covid-19 lockdown.
It was a special moment that 20 years ago she couldn’t possibly have envisaged.
Back in the 90s Sally was an active mum of two, completely unaware that she had a serious health condition. Least of all PKD. That was, until the acute tiredness she’d put down to the arrival of her 2nd child led her to seek help.
Though initial blood tests revealed nothing of concern, a scan revealed the worst. Sally learnt she had PKD, a life-changing moment that came as a shock. With no known family history, there was never a reason to suspect PKD. The discovery came as a surprise to the radiographer too, who, having never seen such grossly enlarged kidneys declared "Oh my goodness, they're whoppers!”
Within 2 years Sally had started dialysis, firstly peritoneal and then haemodialysis, both of which brought many difficulties. Later she underwent the removal of a kidney to make way for a transplant.
Sally’s husband Tim volunteered to donate a kidney but was rejected as a suitable donor at the end of the screening process. It was a sad day for all the family.
But then, on the very day they were dealing with Tim's disappointing news, while also preparing to go on their first dialysis holiday, Sally received an unexpected call.
A kidney had become available.
The transplant was carried out on 9th July 2000 at Churchill Hospital in Oxford. To this day, Sally can recall the exact emotion she felt on going to theatre with the biggest smile on her face!
Since then, it would be fair to say it’s not been entirely plain sailing for Sally. Due to a number of rejection episodes she's remained on steroids, which has resulted in other medical problems. The family also now believe that Sally inherited PKD from her dad who died from a stroke, as did his mother and grandfather - possibly due to undiagnosed high blood pressure. Her sister Judith has also since been diagnosed with PKD.
Yet despite the roadblocks, Sally has defied the odds - the average lifespan of a deceased donor kidney was only 7 years back in 2000. She’s seen her children grow up, continued her career, and is still going strong!
Sally says “Along with my husband Tim, our son and daughter I will be forever grateful to the family of the lady who lost her life in a road traffic accident 20 years ago.”
And to you Sally, you’re a PKD Superstar. Congratulations!
Connect with Sally on Twitter: @SallyBadham