Former Castleford nurse great grandmother who donated kidney to a stranger skydives for charity

An 80-year-old great grandmother who donated a kidney to a stranger has jumped out of a plane for charity.

Tuesday, 29th September 2020, 4:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 29th September 2020, 6:08 pm
Jane Bull and daughter Jayne

Peta Jane Bull – known as Jane – took the plunge this week to help a dementia charity that you can donate to here.

Ahead of the jump, she said: “I’m very excited and I am going to be dead cross if there’s another lockdown. We are all fed up with it. It’ll be great weather permitting.

“Even if it’s the last thing I do I’ll be tied to a hunky young man when I jump out the plane, God help him!”

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Jane spent 44 years working as a nurse, including 11 years in occupational health at Rowntree Mackintosh in Castleford and Seacroft Hospital in Leeds.

She has already abseiled 150ft down the former Leeds College of Technology when she turned 60 to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

She said: “That was brilliant. I just like doing challenges, doing something exciting. I don’t want to be retired and staring into space, you have got to do something.”

On the significance of the cause, she said: “My father had dementia for a few years as well as his sister, and I’m at the age quite a few of my friends have been affected.

“You wouldn’t let a dog suffer like that. You lose the person long before they die.

“It is wicked and it hits people even in their 50s so let’s find a cure for it.”

Jane, who now lives in Garforth, donated her kidney the other year after reading about it online.

She felt it was something she could afford to do and wanted to help.

She said: “It is less painful than having a tooth out.

“It was very easy and it was painless, I was home two days later. I haven’t’ felt any difference whatsoever.”

And she was able to make contact with the person she helped.

She said: “I got a lovely letter from man who got the kidney via the team at St James’ Hospital –it has changed his life completely.

“I was apologetic because it is an 80 year old kidney but the doctors said there’s another 20 years in it.

“It felt absolutely wonderful. I wrote back via the hospital and they posted it to him.

“He said he was 74 and had kidney problems from being seven. But since the transplant he was able to walk the dog, do the garden and join in life again. He was made up.”

Jane is very keen to not appear as if she is a “saint” and downplays the significance of her decision to donate her kidney.

She said: “I don’t think it is a big deal. It was no brainer for me. There’s a lot of people needing a kidney.

“Apparently I can go back and give a slice of my liver because it grows back.”

She doesn’t have any big explanation for why at the age of 80 she feels fit to jump out of a plane, though she accepted it is not how most people of a similar age will be spending their day.

She said: “I have just been very blessed. I don’t deliberately take exercise but can still do a five mile walk aside from the fact we are in lockdown.

“I garden a lot and play with my great grandchildren when I am allowed to. It’s important to keep connected to life.

“I have been very fortunate with being healthy. It is the luck of the draw.”

Her son Dom Bull said his mother Jane had a special talent for helping people.

He said: “I think all of her kids – there’s five of us in total – and her grandkids and great-grandkids all think she’s bonkers for doing the sky-dive, but it’s a very ‘Mum’ thing to do.

“She’s been a nurse since she was 16, and after that was an Airbnb super-host, so for her caring for others just comes naturally.”

“The kidney donation was an incredible gesture – we joked at the time that she was trying to get to heaven one organ at a time – and I know it gives her a lot of comfort knowing she’s changed the life of the recipient.”

Jane has also helped with a project to help people with Alzheimer’s.

Dom said: “She’s also been involved in an Alzheimer’s research project with Leeds Uni for several years now as it’s a subject that’s close to her heart.

“She jokes that she’s their star pupil as she often remembers lists of items they’ve asked her to memorise months earlier without any mistakes.”

The skydive will be raising money for the Alzheimer’s Society. Writing on her Just Giving page for the cause, Jane said: “If you can help with any amount at all I am sincerely grateful.

Thank you so much. It’ll make jumping out of a plane a lot easier hopefully .

To donate to the cause please visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/peta-jane-bull.