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Tanya gives her partner Gavin the gift of life

05 February 2021

A North Yorkshire construction project manager says he still feels overwhelmed that his partner gave him the gift of life which shows what a brave and amazing woman she is.

Gavin Jewitt and Tanya
Tanya and Gavin

Gavin Jewitt, 37, had one transplant from his late mum Sharon and a second from his partner Tanya Lynch.

When Gavin knew he needed a second kidney transplant, Tanya immediately offered to get tested to see if she was a match as she wanted to give him his quality of life back for their future together.

"It was a huge thing for me to do as I have never had an operation or procedure done before," she said. "When the independent assessor asked me what I was getting out of donating I answered getting Gav back healthy and our lives back".

Gavin initially didn't want Tanya to donate as he was worried about the risks, but Tanya knew he would do the same in her position if he could.

"When I think about what Tanya has done for me it still overwhelms me, it is such a selfless thing to do, she has given me the gift of another life, it just shows what a brave, amazing woman Tanya is, and just one of the reasons I love her!"

Gavin and Tanya celebrate the second kidneyversary in August.

Meanwhile, Gavin has supported the research that made his transplants possible, by taking part in our Step Into Christmas challenge last year to raise money for Kidney Research UK.

He walked 12,000 steps a day for 12 days with his two dogs, Coco and Hugo, around his home village of Brotherton, near Pontefract, where he has been working from home while shielding throughout lockdown.

His first kidney transplant was from his late mum Sharon in 2007 and lasted 11 years.

Two transplants

“Mum was only five feet tall on her tip toes, bless her, but despite being so tiny her kidney was powerful enough to keep me going from 2007 until I got a chest infection that developed into pneumonia in 2018,” Gavin said.

“The infection decimated the kidney. So, I was back on dialysis and needing another transplant.”

Luckily, his partner Tanya was a perfect match and his second transplant went ahead in August 2019.

“The difference is hard to describe. We are chuffed to bits. To find a partner match and see it work so well is amazing. I feel very lucky.”

Gavin has Henock-Schonlein purpura which was picked up following a routine army medical when he was 18 years old.

Gavin Jewitt
Gavin and his partner Tanya before and after

I couldn’t join the army

“The army advised me to have further tests, which led me to the amazing team at St James Hospital in Leeds, which is where I was diagnosed.

“I was excited for my future, until the further tests showed kidney problems. It was a huge shock.

“From being in the gym, training hard, I had the wind knocked out my sails. My world crashed round me.

“I remember thinking, give me some tablets, then I’ll be OK, and I can join up, right? I was so wrong!”

Like most teenagers, Gavin thought he was invincible. It wasn’t until he took a tour of the Leeds renal unit and saw people on dialysis that he felt truly shattered.

Research can change lives

“It took a while to sink in. I was young and naive. My training regime and future ground to a halt.

“It was heart-breaking seeing people tied to a machine to keep them alive, then realising this was now my life. It took a while to get my head round it.”

Gavin had two episodes of dialysis for around 18 months each time before each transplant. His experience has made him passionate about supporting research to make the process better for patients.

“Dialysis takes a toll on people emotionally and physically. If fundraising challenges like Step into Christmas can help fund the research needed to make it better, I’ll be happy.”

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