Wakefield grandmother gives gift of a life to a complete stranger

Alison Ellis, 60 of Walton......kidney donation story Katie Baldwin
Alison Ellis, 60 of Walton......kidney donation story Katie Baldwin

A grandmother has given a gift of life by donating one of her kidneys to a complete stranger.

Alison Ellis, 60, has become one of only a handful of people in the UK to donate an organ to someone she has never met.

Ms Ellis, who lives in Walton, said: “It’s been an amazing experience. There’s so much evil in the world, it’s nice to do something completely for someone else.”

Ms Ellis, who lives with her partner Robert, said she considered altruistic donation a few years ago but could not go ahead at that time because of her job.

Then Ms Ellis’s step-granddaughter Hannah Whitaker, 13, became ill and needed a transplant, and Ms Ellis considered putting herself forward.

Hannah’s dad Adrian Whitaker donated a kidney.

But Ms Ellis said the teenager’s comment that she was put off from taking a kidney from a non-living donor, because she did not like the idea of someone dying, inspired her to donate her kidney to a stranger.

Ms Ellis said: “I thought I could give my kidney to someone and they would know that nobody had to die to get it.”

Ms Ellis then had to undergo months of tests to check she would be a suitable donor.

She added: “Because I’m an altruistic donor, they have examined me to within an inch of my life.”

Ms Ellis decided to go into a paired programme, where pairs of recipients and donors are matched up when the organ being offered by one donor is not compatible for their relative, but could help someone else.

The scheme was introduced last year and only a handful of transplants involving them have taken place.

Ms Ellis’s operation took place earlier this year at St James’s Hospital, Leeds.

The grandma-of-two spent two days in hospital and four weeks at home recovering from the procedure.

She said: “People think what I have done is wonderful, and I’m sure the person who has got my kidney thinks that, but for me it does not feel like such a big deal.”