Organ donation is ‘life-changing gift’ for local girl

By Alexandra Bánfi   |   Reporter   |
Thursday 24th March 2022 12:20 pm
@AlexandraBanfi
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Hawys, 13, received a kidney from her mum on 7 December 2021, after being diagnosed with end stage kidney failure in December 2020

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A FAMILY whose “lives were turned upside down”by a shock diagnosis is fundraising, as well as raising awareness of the importance of organ donation.

Hawys Richards, from Ciliau Aeron, was only 12 years old when she was diagnosed with end stage kidney failure, on 10 December 2020. After being on a home dialysis APD machine for nearly a year, Hawys received a kidney from her mother, Nia Richards, on 7 December 2021.

“We are now 14 weeks post operation and Hawys, 13, has successfully taken the kidney and is being closely monitored by Kidney Centre Wales and the staff at Noah’s Ark renal team,” Nia said, “she has regular visits to Cardiff as this is the only hospital that can look after her in this condition.”

Nia said the diagnosis “turned our lives upside down,” adding: “We are an active family, it was during Covid-19 so we cycled as a family to keep active. Hawys cycled a 40 miler a couple of months before and would normally cycle to our local cycle club, did an hour skill session and then a road ride on Saturday and the following day did a mountain bike ride in Nant yr Arian before falling ill.  

“She has always been a quiet and content child.  She felt insecure during dialysis but since transplant, she is much more confident, back in school after being off for 4 months, and willing to take part in activities like hockey, school choir ready for Eisteddfod Urdd.

“She hated being attached to the machine but rarely cried, she just got on with it.”

Nia continued: “As a mother, I had to learn how to use the home dialysis machine, carry heavy bags, setting up took up to an hour, endless alarms going off at night, disturbed sleep for both us and the whole family, storage was an issue, clinical waste collected weekly and deliveries of nearly 40 boxes fortnightly. 

“I was advised getting a kidney on a deceased list would take up to least a year or more.  So I went for tests for being a live donor, this alone took 10 months.  

“I was successful and, even though there was still Covid-19, had a date set on 7 December 2021. I was in Southmead in Bristol and Hawys in The Children’s hospital, Bristol.  We thank the lord that everything went well In both operations.  “Hawys accepted the kidney but must have continuous reviews and support from Cardiff, now and for the future. She will be on tablets for life, immunosuppressants, steroids and this is a great worry with Covid-19 still about in the area.”

Now Nia is raising vital funds for the charities that supported Hawys, but also awareness of the “life-changing gift” of organ donation.

“Kidney Wales started a virtual fund-raising event on 13 March 2021, lasting 12 months. So we used this to raise funds, for not just Kidney Wales, but also for Noah’s Ark and Ronald McDonald Charities. 

“The Whole family supported this event by cycling and walking over the past year and to date raised over £6,000 to these charities.” To donate to the family’s efforts, please go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/elizabeth-richards18.

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