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Paula's story

I would not be the person I am today if I had not fallen so ill.

am 4 feet 8 inches but have a very out-going personality. I have always known what it is like to be ill. It all started when I was 14 years old and I was rushed to hospital. I was in a very bad way with my health.

I had been diagnosed with peritonitis, which led to renal failure, heart failure and pneumonia. I remained in the hospital for about three months.

My kidney recovered somewhat, but I still required a transplant in the near future. Time and time again the doctors and nurses worked so tirelessly around the clock to save my life. I weighed 45kgs when I was admitted to hospital and when I was discharged weighed only 22kgs. I received my first renal cadaveric transplant when I was just 20 years old. I felt like a bird with new wings.

Nothing could stop me. I volunteered everywhere I could, went everywhere I could and had an amazing 17 years with my kidney.

After fostering two children, I contracted chickenpox and was hospitalised. My kidneys failed and once again hospital became my second home.

When I needed a second transplant my husband offered his kidney to me. We discovered that we were not a match. There was some sadness - but not for long. The doctors said they thought there was a way we could still do this although it would be very tough.

We went through with the treatment and my husband never faulted once. I had to receive dialysis and plasma exchange in order to change my blood group to match my husband's. After all the blood, sweat and tears you can see the difference straight away. My eyes were whiter and my skin clearer. I didn't feel nausea all the time either.

I am so lucky I have the doctors and I have and the loving support of my husband and friends. You see there will always be a mountain to climb, a river to cross, but it's how you go about it really. Look for the rainbow because it's there. I would not be the person I am today if I had not fallen so ill.

I appreciate the very small things in life, like the way every second counts and you will not get it back again. Do it now - not tomorrow. Tell people how you feel about them and don't take things for granted. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to all who have become organ donors - you are heroes!


Nicky Burton