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Scots teen has ‘sparkle’ back after life-saving kidney operation during pandemic

A brave Glasgow teenager became the first person to receive a life-saving kidney transplant during the pandemic in Scotland.

Zak Khan and mum Farzana have issued their heartfelt thanks to medics who pulled off the operation despite the NHS being under extreme pressure since March 2020.

The young man had waited two-and-a-half years before a match was found and was on dialysis when he received the life-changing call, Glasgow Live reports.

While the spread of coronavirus has forced many things to grind to a halt since March 2020, the demand for kidney transplants has continued to surge and to keep up, so too has NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s paediatric transplant team.

Since the pandemic started, the team at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow has successfully completed 14 paediatric kidney transplants to children across Scotland.

The Glasgow teen, who had suffered kidney failure, said he was “so relieved it had actually happened” because life has been “really hard”.

Mum Farzana added that the “sparkle” has returned to his eyes since his transplant.

“I still can’t believe it when I look at him and when I look at how healthy he actually looks now – his colour and complexion… He was very pale before.”

The paediatric transplant programme has been able to continue thanks to strict infection prevention and control measures at the hospital alongside a supply of organs donated through deceased and living volunteer donors.

Of the 14 transplants, six have come from living donors, and eight from deceased.

Little Ruby had spent most of her life on dialysis

Little Ruby Simpson, from Fife, also received a life saving surgery in Glasgow after her gran donated a kidney to the two-year-old tot.

At just 12 days old Ruby was diagnosed with congenital nephrotic syndrome and had to have both kidneys removed by the time she was seven months old. Ruby spent most of her life on dialysis and medics had feared she may not survive.

Luckily, Gran Dawn Thomson, 52, was told she was a tissue match and Ruby received her new kidney on July 1st 2020.

Mum Chloe, said: “The transplant has changed Ruby’s life and ours so much.

“She’s like a different child, full of energy and eating us out of house and home!

“It’s been nice to plan things and actually get to do them, like in the photo which was from a recent trip to the zoo, unlike before when there was a lot of hospital stays and plans got cancelled.

“It was tough the transplant happening during the pandemic with Ruby’s Granny being the donor and not being able to see her or any of our support network who would usually have been around.

“It’s definitely still changed things for the better though and the difference in Ruby proves that!”

Dr Ben Reynolds, Paediatric Nephrologist at the Royal Hospital for Children, said: “We’ve been very lucky in that we’ve been able to continue our full transplant programme throughout COVID-19 and it’s amazing to have been able to do so many transplants despite the challenging situation.

“Moving a child off dialysis makes a huge difference to their lives. It means being able to go back to school properly, go swimming, kick a football about with their pals and get some of their childhood back, without having to visit the hospital every week for long periods of time.

“Dialysis is an effective means of keeping a patient safe but it’s not a long-term solution and we still have a long waiting list for a kidney transplant.

“Organ donation week is a powerful springboard to help highlight the ongoing need for organ donors, but for us to continue giving kids that new lease of life, donation is something which has to happen year-round.

“If you want to be an organ donor after you die, it’s still really important that those closest to you understand and support your choice, and we’d urge everyone to have that conversation where possible.”

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