Organ donation transformed Gemma’s life
A Lynn hospital member is championing organ donation following her own life-changing transplant.
Gemma Struge, who was born with a reflux issue, underwent a kidney transplant six-years-ago after Great Ormond Street Hospital in London noted that one of her kidneys had not grown properly.
After moving to Norfolk, the 33-year-old started visiting a neurology consultant at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, who put her on a waiting list for a transplant.
Mrs Struge was referred to Addenbrooke’s, in Cambridge, for dialysis, and given she was blood group B, prepared herself for an anticipated five-year wait for a suitable donor.
But it was just 13-months later, in January 2012, when she received a phone call saying a match had been found and she was to undergo surgery.
She said: “The kidney was coming from Leicester and I needed to get to Addenbrooke’s right away.
“I had been feeling really unwell in the lead-up to it and even on the journey there I still couldn’t believe the transplant was going to happen.
“When I came round after surgery, I remember the nurse asking ‘How are you feeling?’. I said ‘I feel great’ and I really did.”
The transplant made it much easier for Mrs Struge and her husband, Gary, to consider having a family and now the couple are parents to Harley, 5, and Austin, 2.
Her career as a part-time bed manager in the trust has continued on track too, with the only time off taken being for her recovery.
“Not only did it completely change my life for the better but it gave others life too, I now have two children,” said Mrs Struge.
She is continuing to see her nephrology consultant for transplant follow-up check-ups every three-months, which will reduce in time to once a year.
Mrs Struge added: “Who knows what my situation would have been without the transplant.
“I would have been really unwell and possibly not been able to work. I don’t know if or when I would have been able to have children.”
“I like working for the healthcare system. The NHS has done so much for me. I try to promote organ donation as much as I can.”
The Sturges have built a close relationship with Paresh and Kalpna Parmar, parents of Ashni, the 12-year-old donor. She says she will be forever thankful for the way they have helped transform her life.
To find out more about organ donation, visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk.