Kidney donation is life-saving and transforms the lives of people dependent on dialysis.
There are over 43,000 recipients with a functioning kidney transplant living in the UK, and between 2021 and 2022, over 3000 UK kidney transplants took place.
Living donation represented 28% of the total kidney transplant programme in 2021-2022.
There were 68 non-directed altruistic living kidney donors, when a person volunteers to donate a kidney anonymously to someone they don't know. These 68 donations created donor chains that benefitted 94 patients.
Over 100 kidney transplants were made possible by the paired living kidney donation programme, including 22 three-way exchanges.
Transplant recipients never forget the date of their kidneyversary.
“I celebrate my kidneyversary because I’m still here to be able to. Having a transplant is the gift of life, and I enjoy my life.”
"I’ve had two transplants. The first was at the age of 10 in 1977 – I was one of the first child kidney transplant patients to be successful. Not many children that have made it and it’s unique that I’m still here to tell the story. I remember going in for that first transplant – I asked my mum, 'Can I have ice cream after?' I was 10 and I’d never had ice cream before, I’d never had gravy, I’d never had a bacon sandwich. I remember the surgeon gave me a bacon sandwich after my transplant! Amazingly, his son did my second transplant. They both treated me like a patient, like a human.
"I was 3 months off a 35-year kidneyversary when I went in for that second transplant. I was scared for my husband because this time it was a three-way swap. I was very down after the second transplant; the first had worked so well, and I was mourning the first kidney. It had given me a life and we didn’t know if this new one was going to work. But it did, and my second kidney kidneyversary is coming up on 12 years. I’m hoping to get to 35 years with this one.
"I celebrate my kidneyversary because I’m still here to be able to. I never expected to get married and next year I’m celebrating my 30-year anniversary. I never expected to have a family, and now my daughter is finishing university. Having a transplant is the gift of life, and I enjoy my life."
“It’s such a selfless thing to do, to donate a kidney. The gift that my brother gave me saved my life.”
"It was all a bit of a shock to be honest, getting diagnosed with IGA nephropathy. It began when I was on holiday and started getting dizzy spells. I came back and saw a nurse, had my bloods and blood pressure done, my pressure was up, and I was told I had kidney disease. I ended up going through the full gambit of illness and saw my kidney function dropping over a few years.
"I never had to ask anybody for a donation. Both my brother and sister turned up at my door and said: 'We want to be tested to see if we can give you a kidney.' In the end, my brother’s kidney was more suitable.
"It was a massive thing for him to do, and all through the transplant journey we had a great time together. He was fit and healthy, he didn’t have to go through what he did. Me and my brother are closer than we’ve ever been. Hopefully this donation gets me through a big chunk of my life.
"The camaraderie you get from other kidney patients is amazing. I ended up talking to a guy online that had his transplant on the exact same day that I did, and his donation was also from his brother. We swapped stories and for our first kidneyversary we all met up and celebrated in London.
"I celebrate my kidneyversary because it’s the day I got my life back. It’s such a selfless thing to do, to donate a kidney. The gift that my brother gave me saved my life."
“I felt like Superwoman, like I could conquer the world, me, and my kidney.”
"I was diagnosed when I was 22 and I was told that, even though I’d eventually need a transplant, that my chance of getting one was slim. Twenty six years later, after three years on peritoneal dialysis, it turned out that my sister was a match for me. We booked in a date for her to give me a kidney, everything going according to plan. She was literally at the train station waiting to go to the hospital, and she got a phone call telling her that her kidney function had dropped by 1% and she couldn’t donate. She was devastated, but the kidney nurses looked after us so well.
"Then, two years later, when I was working up to haemodialysis which I really didn’t want to do, I got a call that there was a deceased donor. I felt every single emotion at the same time. I was scared to have the transplant because my life on peritoneal dialysis was okay – I was as healthy as I could be. I felt happy that my life was about to change, I felt sad because I knew someone had passed away to give me that kidney, and I felt blessed that I was going to get a transplant.
"I didn’t realise how ill I really was until after the transplant. It was like “wow”! I felt like Superwoman, like I could conquer the world, me, and my kidney.
"I am just over 10 years down the line, and not a day goes past where I don’t think how lucky I am. The reason I celebrate my kidneyversary is because it makes you appreciate life. I am so grateful, and I share my story because it makes other people feel better. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel."
“Now Mum has a new lease on life. I tell her, ‘Look after the kidney, I’ve not got another spare one!’”
"Aged 30, my mum found out she only had one kidney. In 2017, she came to me and my sister to say she would be going on the transplant list. She didn’t want one of us to donate but my sister spoke to her, and Mum agreed to start testing to see if either of us were suitable. I got tested and found out that I couldn’t donate directly to Mum, so we went into the paired scheme. It’s an anxious time – every time the phone rings you sit there wondering if it's the donation team.
"I got the call and as soon as I answered the phone, I could tell it was good news. We didn’t realise quite how ill my mum was and the thought of being able to help was exciting. There were six people in our paired chain, the maximum number. It was incredible.
"Now Mum has a new lease on life. It’s the simple things, going out for the day, just being active and doing things with family and friends. I get sent pictures of her with a half-pint of lager, and I tell her, “Look after the kidney, I’ve not got another spare one!”
"On Mum’s first kidneyversary, I brought her a present and cake while we were out on a picnic. Now every year, my niece makes us kidneyversary cards to give to each year. She’s even made me a picture on a canvas that I hang on my wall and has recently raised money through a step challenge. She wanted to help other families, wanted them to get better like her grandma.
"A kidneyversary is about celebrating that new lease of life. Unless you’ve been there and seen it, you don’t realise the difference a transplant makes.
Share your kidneyversary story
We’d love to hear your kidneyversary stories, from your first to your thirtieth anniversary, and to highlight the gratitude you feel towards your donor. From the small celebration with your partner to the huge party with all the extended family, how have you celebrated receiving the gift of life?
Kidneyversary cards to buy
Let us help you celebrate your kidneyversary with our exclusive Kidney Care UK kidneyversary cards.
Whether you're buying a card for a kidney recipient or a kidney donor, look through our kidneyversary card selection on the Kidney Care UK Shop.
Prices start at £2.50 and every purchase you make will help us ensure that no one faces kidney disease alone.