Triple Transplant Breakthrough

A loving husband donated a kidney to a complete stranger - to save his wife's life.

Andrew Mullen, 53, couldn't be a donor for wife Andrea because he was not a direct match.

However, he agreed to take place in a groundbreaking three-way swap operation, the first of its kind in Scotland, involving two other couples.

The three kidneys were pooled between the three patients and Andrea got her new kidney in the pioneering procedure carried out at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

Andrea, a 54-year-old housewife, said:

 

 "It is without a doubt the best present I've ever been given.
 
"Before, everything revolved around getting dialysis treatment. I was so ill that I didn't have a life.
 
"Now, I'm feeling better than I have done for years and it's all thanks to Andrew."
 
Mum-of-two Andrea, from Aberdeen, fell seriously ill three years ago. She was left confined to bed and had no idea what was wrong with her.
 
A series of tests revealed she had developed a rare condition which caused her immune system to attack her body.
 
This caused her kidneys to fail and overnight she began sessions of dialysis.
 
She had to go to hospital three times a week and be hooked up to a machine for hours at a time.
Andrew Mullen
Andrew, a site manager in the oil industry, offered to become a donor, as did other family members and friends. But all were ruled out, meaning she spent a total of two and a half years on the waiting list.
 
Andrea said:
 
 "I had rare antibodies in my blood. That meant it was going to prove very difficult to find a donor. But I went on the waiting list and hoped for the best."
 
Despite not being able to become a donor for his wife directly Andrew signed up for a "swap" transplant.
 
The groundbreaking procedure saw the Mullens teamed up with two other couples they've never met, Teemir Thakrar, 32, from Hertfordshire and wife Linsey, 30, and Chris Brent, 42, from Bexleyheath and his sister Lisa Burton, 45, from Hastings.
 
On the morning of the 4th of December 2009, the procedure got underway.
 
Andrew and Andrea had their operation carried out at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.
 
Andrew's kidney was rushed to the two hospitals in London where the other patients were waiting.
 
He said
 
"I didn't hesitate to help.
 
"When you see your wife ill for so long you don't think twice about doing something that is going to make her better.
 
"She was my main priority, but the fact that three people have benefitted makes it even better."
 
Andrew was out of the hospital within four days, while his wife had to spend two weeks getting further intensive treatment to ensure her body wasn't rejected.
 
Now both are back home and back to normal.
 
Andrea said:
 
 "He's back to work and back to jogging and doing sit-ups.
 
"Just having one kidney has had no effect on him at all. He's as fit and healthy as he was before.
 
"Now we're planning to go away on our first holiday for years to celebrate."
 
The operation was the second "three-way" transplant in the UK, but this is the first time patients involved in the procedure have spoken out.
 
Lorna Marson, consultant transplant surgeon at the RIE, said she was delighted everything went so well.
 
She said:
 
 "Andrea and Andrew have made a great recovery and we are so pleased for them both.
 
“Andrea had to undergo a lot of preparation before the transplant so without this three-way operation, which was planned in advance, she would never have been able to undergo a transplant."
 

 

08/03/2010