By JOHN VAN KLAVEREN
BARRY Freeman has carried a kidney-shaped piece of sister Judy Mather with him for the past 25 years.
The pair celebrated the 25th anniversary of the transplant recently, hoping to encourage others to register for organ and tissue donation during DonateLife Week.
“It was a big deal for us then,” Judy reflected.
“Back then medical procedures weren’t so advanced but it’s like putting a Band-Aid on these days.”
Barry was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at the age of 12 but lived a full and active life until his kidney suddenly failed at 40.
“The diabetes diagnosis was a bolt out of the blue because there was no family history of it,” Judy said.
“Barry had his own earthmoving business but it all came to a halt when his kidney shut down, so I did a lot of preliminary testing to make sure we were compatible before I told him I was going to donate my kidney.
“He asked me whether I was sure, I told him he would do it for me and that’s really the only consideration we took.”
The surgery, at Prince Henry’s Hospital, was uncomplicated and Barry made a complete recovery, although he still suffers some effects of the diabetes.
“It means I’m still here walking around,” Barry said.
“It frightened the hell out of me when she suggested it but it has made such a difference to me.
“It was like turning a light switch on. I was feeling crook before and when I came out of it I felt that much better, almost instantly.
“What she did for me was fantastic. I owe her for the rest of my life.”
Judy said she hoped the story would encourage young people to be organ donors and to discuss their wishes with their family.
DonateLife Week runs from 23 February to 2 March.