Hazel Jones, of Mosgiel, celebrates the 30th anniversary of
her kidney transplant by spending time in her much-loved
garden. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Thirty years after having a life-saving kidney
transplant, Hazel Jones is celebrating this month.
But it is not a big celebration, more a ''chalking up'' of
the milestone, the 64-year-old says.
''Every day above ground is a good one and worthy of
Mrs Jones had the transplant in Christchurch in September
1983, making her the longest surviving kidney transplant
patient in Otago.
She said she lost her kidneys after a long battle with an
infection which began when she was about 16.
''I wasn't diagnosed properly. I just got sicker and sicker.
''I had three and a-half years on dialysis - eight hours
every second day. It was hell.
''Being tied to the machine, I didn't really have a life. But
without it, you die.''
Mrs Jones was put on a kidney transplant waiting list, and
was lucky a match came up.
She was told the estimated lifespan for kidney transplant
patients was about seven years.
''One year went on to the next and before I knew it, 30 years
have gone by.''
Southern District Health Board consultant nephrologist Dr
John Schollum said Mrs Jones was a remarkable woman because
her transplant had lasted 30 years, when the average survival
rate of someone her age was 15 years.
Because she had taken good care of the organ, he believed it
could last her for many more years.
''The chance of people in her cohort of getting to 30 years
is 5% to 7%.''
Mrs Jones said the transplant was her greatest gift because
it had given her 30 extra years of ''quality'' life.
And while the milestone was worthy of celebration, she would
not be throwing a big party because she was aware of the
major sacrifice made by someone to keep her alive.
''I don't know who donated the kidney, but I'm tremendously
grateful. I think of the family of the person who gave me
''While it's something to celebrate, they gave me the gift of
life and I'm respectful of the family that gave it. I always
think about them. They've done a wonderful thing.''
She said ''the extra time'' had allowed her to watch her
daughter get married and see her three grandchildren grow up.
Even the simple things in life, like watching her garden grow
and the seasons change, gave her joy.
''It's taught me not to take life for granted - I don't hate
''I feel very, very grateful.''
Dr Schollum said about 100 people were on dialysis in Otago
and 15 to 20 of them were awaiting a kidney transplant.
About 85% of donated kidneys came from living donors, and he
encouraged people to consider donating one of their kidneys
to help people like Mrs Jones.
''There is a need for donors.''