A Horley man has given his best friend the gift of life by donating his kidney to him after finding he was an ideal donor match.
Spencer Moss, 46, who works as a baggage handler at Gatwick Airport, didn't tell his poorly pal Dave Yeatman, a renal patient at St Helier Hospital in Carshalton, that he had made an appointment to see if he might be able to help him.
Spencer said: “Me and Dave go way back. He was my best man and we’re just like brothers.”
He said: “We just really get on. Last year, when I knew Dave was poorly and in need of a new kidney, I made an appointment with St Helier Hospital’s organ transplant co-ordinator, Tracy Norton-Smith, to see if I could help Dave out.”
He didn’t tell Dave at first because he didn't want to raise his hopes.
Dave had been a St Helier outpatient for 16 years.
But after keeping the secret for weeks, Spencer got a call from Tracy at St Helier to let him know the good news that he was a match for his friend.
Meeting up with Dave, 43, who lives in Burgess Hill, and works as a cargo manager in the airline industry, Spencer took a call from the hospital.
Recalling the life-changing moment, Dave said: “Spencer’s mobile went and I was worried as he said it was the hospital. “He then explained he’d gone off to get tested to be a potential kidney donor for me.”
He said: “Well, we both got a bit choked up. I couldn’t believe he’d do that for me. I have to say we had a bit of a man hug. It was very emotional.”
The kidney transplant was successfully carried out last November.
Spencer and Dave, who have praised their pre and post-operative care as “fantastic,” are still returning to St Helier for regular check-ups.
And recently, they added to their praise for the service by paying a special visit to the hospital on World Kidney Day (March 13), to meet the staff and nurses again and to hand over a cheque for £1,000 to the renal clinic, raised by Spencer from a sponsored bike ride.
St Helier transplant co-ordinator Tracy Norton Smith, said: “I feel very privileged to have made this special journey – and it has been a journey with many ups and downs – with these two gentlemen, and to have played a small part in such a life-changing event.”
Spencer said that donating his kidney to his best friend had been such a positive experience that he had the green ribbon ‘kidney awareness’ logo tattooed on his arm, along with the date of the operation, as a permanent reminder.
He has also vowed to continue fundraising for kidney charities.
“I didn’t realise it was possible to live healthily with one kidney and I hope our story helps others to think about donation,” he said. “I would recommend donation to anyone. Just seeing Dave healthy again, happy and playing with his three-year-old son is brilliant.”
St Helier Hospital chief executive Matthew Hopkins, said: “What an amazing story of friendship this is, and one which really highlights how most of us can donate a living kidney while we are alive, to someone we know, or donate altruistically, which means donate to a complete stranger.”
He continued: “A huge thank you to Spencer and Dave for their donation of another kind - £1,000 to our renal clinic - which will be used to help other kidney patients.” There are 5,668 people in the UK waiting for a kidney.
In the year 2012 to 2013, there were 2,820 kidney transplants, with 1,068 from living donors. At St Helier, 92 patients received a kidney transplant - 30 from living donors - while 185 patients are on the waiting list.