Hazel and David Goodman

Mother and son Hazel and David are celebrating a “miracle” ending to a difficult 18 months as they welcome two new arrivals in the family

Hazel Goodman, 72, from Glasgow, donated a kidney to David, 33, after he was diagnosed with kidney failure. Now, the pair are sharing their story to raise awareness of the benefits of living donation.

For David, who lives in London with wife Gaia, the news that he would need a kidney transplant was sudden and unexpected. He had visited his GP about a routine issue at lunchtime on 2 August 2022, and got some blood tests while he was there. He didn’t have any symptoms and had been feeling well, however, that evening he received a call telling him to go to A&E immediately. Within 24 hours he had been told he had stage 5 kidney disease and would need to go on dialysis. He was advised that a kidney transplant was inevitable.

Speaking about his diagnosis, David said: “When I got the phone call telling me to go to A&E immediately, I thought there had been a mistake, some kind of mix-up, because I was feeling absolutely fine. Finding out I had kidney failure was a total shock. I’m quite a practical person, so my approach was to compartmentalise and react and deal with the news step-by-step.

“The hardest part was the guilt I felt – about the worry my family were experiencing, and what my wife was going through. We had only been married for 11 months and should have been celebrating our first anniversary and enjoying married life together. On top of that, her dad had been through a kidney transplant years earlier, and she was having to go through it all over again.”

David’s mum, Hazel, and dad, Michael, had travelled down to London to support the couple, and his sister, Colette, and brother-in-law, Michael, who also live in London, were around to help as well. David was placed on the transplant waiting list, but his family knew that he had better chances of getting a kidney quickly if one of them could donate. While at a hospital appointment with David, Hazel noticed a poster about a 74-year-old woman who had donated a kidney altruistically. Seeing that her age wasn’t necessarily a barrier, she became determined that she would donate her kidney to her son.

Hazel said:

“I was completely distraught when Gaia phoned us with the news that David was in kidney failure. Even when your children are grown-up, it’s so easy to revert back to seeing them as children, and that’s what happened. I just wanted to fix everything for David, I wasn’t going to have it any other way. As soon as we found out David would need a new kidney, I had it in my head that I would donate mine. But seeing the poster about a woman older than me who had donated hers really cemented my decision. The Living Donor Transplant Co-ordinator was next door and I just thought ‘let’s get this ball rolling now’, so I went in and started a conversation.”

From there, the process to find out if Hazel would be able to donate her kidney began. She got tests at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, where the transplant nurses were in regular contact with David’s team at the Royal Free Hospital in London. David had to change his diet and lifestyle significantly, and started dialysis in November 2022.

In April 2023, the family received the good news that Hazel was a match and fit to donate. After a final meeting with the transplant surgeon, David’s transplant was scheduled for 3 May 2023 in London.

David said:

“My overriding emotion at the time of my transplant was fear for my mum and guilt about what she was putting herself through. We said goodbye to each other the night before, knowing that by the time we saw each other the next day the transplant would have taken place. I was quite emotional but didn’t want to show it as I didn’t want to make things any harder for my family and Gaia.

“When I woke up after the transplant, the first thing I wanted to know was how my mum was doing and the nurses told me she was doing great. It was amazing how she bounced back. For me, the first two to three weeks after my transplant were the hardest, but after six weeks, I was well on the road to recovery. Within six months I’d put on all the weight that I’d lost, I was back to work fulltime and I was regularly walking and playing golf a few times a week. I was an usher at my cousin’s wedding, which took place abroad in the first week of September. Thankfully I was cleared to travel which wouldn’t have been possible if I’d still been on dialysis.”

Speaking about her surgery and recovery, Hazel said:

“It was the worst feeling saying goodbye to David the night before, and then waiting to find out how the transplant had gone the next day – we were all on tenterhooks. I was in a lot of discomfort initially, but much more focussed on finding out how David got on. The surgeon came to see us and said that my kidney was really healthy and had started working right away. I just felt a massive wave of relief and hope, knowing that David could now get on with the rest of his life.

“I was discharged from hospital three days later, on my 72nd birthday. My daughter and her husband came to see me and gave me a wonderful birthday present – the news that I was going to be a grandparent. Then, three days later, when David got out of hospital, he and Gaia shared the news that they were expecting too. It felt like a miracle after everything we had been through.”

Colette and Michael’s baby boy arrived in December 2023, with David and Gaia also welcoming a son three weeks later, in early January 2024.

Hazel continued:

“We’re over the moon with the two new arrivals in our family, and Michael and I are very much looking forward to our new role as grandparents. There hasn’t been one adverse effect on my health since donating my kidney – I live my life exactly as I did before, I walk regularly, swim three times a week and spend time with family and friends. I want anyone my age or older with the opportunity to donate a kidney to know that age isn’t a barrier and they could do it too. I’m so thankful that I was a suitable match for David and that I was able to help him get back to living the life he deserves.”

David concluded:

“I don’t think there could have been anything better for my recovery than knowing I was going to be a dad in eight months. Now that my son’s here, it’s hard to believe everything we were going through 18 months ago. I’m so grateful to my mum for what she did for me, and so proud of her strength and bravery. Thanks to her donation, I’m now looking forward to the rest of my life with my family.”

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