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Kidney disease ends here.

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Local showbiz family on a mission to create a film about organ donation

01 December 2021

Andrew Smith, Chipping Norton resident and a former director and producer for the BBC, is creating a thought-provoking film about kidney donation, appropriately titled Donate. Andrew who was the recipient of a life-saving transplant in 2017, is looking to combine humour and serious issues to bring the reality of transplantation to life.  

Andrew and his wife, Sue Tanner who between them have worked across classic programmes including, Only Fools and Horses, Doctor Who and Downton Abbey among others, are seeking funds to build a talented production team to help bring Andrew’s vision onto the silver screen.  

Film inspiration

The inspiration for Donate began when Andrew was recovering from his transplant. His difficult journey with kidney disease had started in 2005 when he had been feeling increasingly unwell. Blood tests eventually revealed that vasculitis had caused acute kidney failure. In December 2016, Andrew had started dialysis but thankfully within three months was able to receive a transplant from a deceased donor.  

Profits from the film will go to charities including Kidney Research UK. 

Sandra Currie, chief executive of Kidney Research UK said; “Kidney disease is no joke, and nor is the scale of problem in the UK where three million people have the condition. But we are always on the look out for new and inventive ways to shine a light on the reality of living with kidney disease and of organ donation, and the sensitive yet humorous approach in Donate is very appealing. We thoroughly recommend supporting the crowdfunder so Donate can help spread the word across the country.” 

“When I was first diagnosed I was angry that this had happened to me and frightened as much for my wife and daughters as for myself,” Andrew recalled; “What would this mean for them? Would I be able to work and support them, would I be here to see my daughters become young women? With extraordinary support from the clinical care team at The Churchill Hospital, I recovered, and for the next five years pretty much resumed my previous life. I had been warned that my kidneys had been damaged, and that dialysis or a transplant may become necessary, and in 2013, the vasculitis returned. Over the next three years my health declined, but I was very fortunate to have received a kidney donation just three months after starting dialysis.” 

Andrew knows nothing about his donor, other than they were under 16 and actually gave him two small kidneys that have now grown to cope with the demands of an adult body. A central character in Andrew’s story is inspired by who he imagines his unknown donor actually was. 

Andrew explained: “It doesn’t really matter how close to the reality my invented donor is, but it does matter that the person whose kidneys now sit inside of me, did have a name, a personality and a life. The purpose of the film is to tell a story that might comfort and inspire others, but also to do justice to the memory, and the selfless donation of my donor and donor family.” 

Andrew Smith with wife, two daughters and two dogs
Andrew Smith (centre) and his family including daughter Camille (right).

Funding for Donate

Securing funding for an independent film is never easy, but Andrew and his team are offering those who donate to their crowdfunding the chance to be named in the credits, or appear as extras or in a few specific speaking roles.  

All donations mean the world to Andrew, for whom this is a true labour of love, borne out of an extraordinary experience and a place of sincere gratitude to his donor and his family. Daughters Camille and Jessica are also helping drive the project forward making the production of the film a real family affair. 

Andrew concluded; “Without Sue, Camille and Jess there would be no Donate. I certainly would not have found the physical or mental strength to deal with the last few years without their unstinting support. The aim and the ambition with Donate is to throw some light on a topic that is still very closed, sensitive, and in many ways unspoken, and unseen. If Donate can make an audience laugh, or at least smile for quite a long time, then the subject of organ donation and transplantation will lose a little of its 'taboo' status, and that in my view can only be good thing.” 

How you can support the film

To support the film, visit www.Donatethemovie.com, and follow the links to the GoFundMe and/or JustGiving pages. 

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