Transplant was greatest gift of all for King’s Lynn ward sister

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A junior sister at the hospital was given the best Christmas present of all after spending three-and-a-half years on the waiting list for a kidney transplant.

Leilanie Bueno, 36, shared her story in a bid to encourage more people to donate their organs during this National Transplant Week.

She went into surgery for the transplant on December 24, 2008, after she was diagnosed with kidney failure almost four years earlier.

She said: “It was a big hit because my aunt had died of kidney disease a few years earlier and we helped to nurse her. I should have known the signs.

“I had been feeling unwell for a while when I was tested in August 2005, they instantly transferred me to Addenbrooke’s where they told me I had kidney failure. It was all so fast.”

Despite having dialysis treatment three times a week, the Filipino nurse continued to work at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

She said: “It was hard and I was exhausted, most days I would get home and just collapse on the sofa, I was too tired to even do the cleaning.

“I just took each day as it came and tried to remain positive. I knew because of my race it would be that much harder to find a donor.”

As she passed the standard three year wait, Leilanie’s husband was tested to see if he would be a match but the results were negative. With Christmas 2008 approaching, the couple expected to hear nothing further from the hospital.

Then, in the early hours of Christmas Eve, the couple received a call saying a match had been found.

Leilanie said: “It was so overwhelming, I didn’t even have time to be scared of this huge procedure, it didn’t hit me until I was just about to go in and that was the only time I’ve cried.

“I’m still on loads of medication but I’ve only had a couple of water infections since. The feeling of total wellbeing is the biggest improvement.

“The most amazing thing is that I now have a three-year-old son. When I found out I was ill, my husband and I were planning to start a family, and had to start looking at adoption.”

Leilanie said: “I want everyone to know what they can do to help. Up to five lives can be saved by every person who donates their organs, when their bodies will just be buried or burned.

“I would just like everyone to be more aware and to put themselves forward to help because there is a very long list of people waiting.”