Celebrating 10 year kidneyversary
When Eric Douglin needed a kidney transplant 10 years ago, his wife, Mandi, stepped in without hesitation. The operation in January 2010 was a success, and this year, Eric is celebrating the 10th anniversary since receiving his life-saving gift.
He said: “When I asked Mandi why she wanted to donate her kidney to me, her response was: ‘Well, anyone would do it, wouldn't they? I have two kidneys, you need one, so it’s an easy decision. Your children and grandchildren need you in their life, as do I.’
“The fact that Mandi is white, and I am black was more remarkable insofar that we were almost a perfect match, and to date there have been no complications or issues to speak of. Mandi and I were married in June 2011 at a very emotional service full of tears and smiles, attended by my very grateful and appreciative family.”
Eric was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease in 2004. He underwent years of medication and therapies to try to manage the condition. In March 2008, his consultant told Eric he needed a life-saving transplant. Due to the nature of the condition (Sclerosis of the kidney) Eric was advised the condition could be congenital and pass to his children, so none of his four children were able to become donors.
Following his transplant, Eric decided to raise awareness of organ donation as a way of giving something back. Eric and Mandi also became advocates for Kidney Research UK, speaking at events promoting the need for organ donors, funding and awareness on life post-transplant.
“I have always enjoyed sport, especially basketball as I run my own club - the Bexhill Giants – so I decided to use this as a vehicle to engage people, sharing mine and Mandi’s stories from a donor and recipient perspective, “ he said.
“In 2015 I organised the World Club Basketball Tournament (WCBT), and last September, we hosted our fifth World Club Basketball Tournament to raise awareness for organ donors; it saw teams from around the world coming to Hastings, East Sussex, to take part in the event. WCBT is now seen as the UK's number one international basketball tournament and it is a great vehicle to raise awareness to people who are unaware of the devastating effects of kidney disease.”
In 2018, Eric won the Sussex Sports Volunteer of the Year Award for organising the WCBT and raising funds and awareness for organ donors. Last year he was a finalist at the Sussex Sports Awards in the Unsung Hero Category, for hosting and organising the WCBT.
He added: “I believe it is important to share my story to allow people to see the positives of organ donation, and how a Gift of Life impacts others. Reaching 10 years is a fantastic milestone; there are many occasions, when I am alone, that I think how fortunate I have been - the feeling of gratitude and guilt overwhelms me.
“Being a kidney transplant recipient for 10 years has enabled me to enjoy many experiences that I may have otherwise missed, including attending my eldest son Craig's wedding in 2017, watching my daughter pursue her acting career and star in prominent TV shows and adverts following my son Rhys's adventures while he completed his dream job working abroad, and seeing my son Bradley start a clothing line business.
“However, the best feeling was being able to celebrate the birth of our fifth grandchild this year - three of which have been born since I had my transplant. That has really put things into perspective -the fact they are able to know their grandfather, and I am able to see my grandchildren grow.
“Mandi always says: ‘Anyone would do it’, but I know that is not the case, otherwise more than 5,000 people would not be on the organ transplant register across the UK. I am fully aware that 'MEric the kidney' (Yes, Mandi & I named the kidney)! is only a temporary fix and I will need another transplant at some stage. Therefore, the fight to raise awareness continues.”
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