Brother ‘didn’t even hesitate’ to offer kidney

Kelvin (left) and Allan Sadler are closer than ever, after Allan gave Kelvin one of his kidneys....
Kelvin (left) and Allan Sadler are closer than ever, after Allan gave Kelvin one of his kidneys. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
When Kelvin Sadler was told he needed a kidney donor, his first question was "how do you ask people to do that?".

"It’s not that easy," the Waimate stock agent said.

Luckily, his Australian-based brother Allan Sadler did not need asking twice.

"He just didn’t even hesitate, but then you don’t want to be feeling like you put pressure on them."

Kelvin had been quietly living with IgA nephropathy, also known as Berger’s disease, for 25 years without many people knowing.

It was picked up when a check-up at the doctor showed protein in his urine.

He was told then that he had about 60% of his full kidney function, and one day he would need a kidney transplant.

That led to annual monitoring which became, as things deteriorated, six-monthly.

"Seven years ago, I dropped from 24% to 16% [function] in 12 months, and that’s when I went to three-monthly testing," he said.

"They said if I carry on dropping at that rate, I’d need a transplant within 12 months."

In the past seven years, as Kelvin’s kidney function dropped again from 16% to 7%, the transplant was imminent and plans were put in place.

"Last year they pushed the go button for surgery, but because of Covid, we couldn’t get Allan into the country, even with a medical exemption," he said.

Other possible candidates were tested, including Kelvin’s wife Leanne, but when the border opened on March 1 and Allan was able to come over, the surgery was scheduled to go ahead as soon as possible.

It was set for May 23, leaving seven weeks to prepare.

"We just went into action mode with all the things we had to prepare. By the time I came to Christchurch I was exhausted," Kelvin said.

The surgery went well, and after four or five days in hospital, the brothers were shifted to Ranui House, a place Kelvin and Leanne have called home for the past eight weeks.

Kelvin described his experience there as "amazing", and said he thought people probably did not realise what it was or how much it helped people.

"In our eight weeks at Ranui House, and we’re still booked in at the moment, there’s been four families from Waimate alone."

Of about 1080 patients and their families who used the facilities in the year to March, more than 20% were from Otago/Southland and 30% from Canterbury.

The brothers got to recuperate at Ranui House for two weeks together, before Allan returned to Australia.

Since his operation, Kelvin said the difference in how he felt was "absolutely amazing".

"If you google chronic kidney disease, there’s 20 symptoms, and I had every single one, and two days after surgery, they’re all gone."

The father-of-four is now working through a six-month post-surgery process, but said he had not felt this good for 10 years.

"I’m still making two trips a week to Christchurch, but I mean compared to being being connected to a dialysis machine for the rest of your life, it’s just been amazing."

He and Allan were now even closer after going through the experience together, and had named his new kidney Alvin.

"I hope the kidney they’ve left him with is as good as the one I’ve got," Kelvin said.

It meant everything to him that his brother had not hesitated to help him.

"Without being too dramatic, it was actually life-changing."

ashley.smyth@odt.co.nz

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