CAFT fundraiser Helen Crowther on why she donated a kidney to a friend
PUBLISHED: 00:00 31 October 2019
Children’s Adventure Farm Trust fundraiser Helen Crowther is proving donating a kidney hasn’t held her back with a climb up Mount Kilimanjaro
It was four years ago I started the year-long process of donating a kidney to my friend, Andy Clewes. If you've ever had someone in your life be really ill, you'll understand how utterly powerless you feel. All you want to do is make things better. And in this instance, I actually had the ability to do something.
For me, there was never any question whether I would do it or not. At first, I'd said light-heartedly to Andy he could have my kidney but I absolutely meant it.
I was nervous on the day of the operation, back in 2017, but mostly I was worried about him. As soon as I woke up I wanted to know how he was. His recovery, as you might expect, was slower than mine, but now he is doing really well and getting on with life. He gets to do things everyone else does, which is something many people who have never had an illness or disability might take for granted.
For me, it meant four nights in hospital and six weeks away from work. For Andy, it transformed his life. And within a few months I was able to exercise again, which got me thinking.
I've worked at Children's Adventure Farm Trust for 17 years and, although I didn't have a charity background beforehand, I always knew I wanted to do more. At the Trust, we change the lives of thousands of children every year and I feel honoured to be a part of that. I started as a fundraising assistant and then very quickly became one of the key fundraisers. I've done several overseas challenges for the Trust; Everest base camp, a sky dive and walking the Great Wall of China. But the Kilimanjaro climb I'm about to do, which is by far the scariest I've taken on yet, is important for different reasons.
I want to show people that even with just one kidney you can still have good health and do so much. I'm feeling nervous but what is reassuring is I am going with a team of 23 others, who have all been working really hard to train and fundraise for this adventure.
The lasting effect on me from this surgery is the passion I have to encourage people to sign on to the organ donation register and also make sure they have made their families aware of their wishes. If you can help someone else live a normal life after you pass away, that is one of the best things you could do for them. I think most of us are very lucky to lead lovely lives with homes, food, loved ones and opportunities. So I feel we have a responsibility to help those who don't have the advantages we have in any way we can.