Hugh Jackson was diagnosed with an incurable chronic kidney disease, IgA Nephropathy whilst in his early twenties, after he noticed blood in his urine after he was ill with flu. He immediately went to his GP and, after tests, was referred to renal specialists who advised that he was very likely to require a kidney transplant in the future.
Over the next fifteen years, Hugh’s kidney function slowly deteriorated and he remained under the careful watch of renal specialists. Thankfully, Hugh had very few obvious outward signs of the disease and he was able to pursue a career in architecture, get married and start a family.
However, in 2016 Hugh’s kidney function began to rapidly decline, and just before Christmas 2016 his kidney function crashed, and he received the news that he would need to be assessed for the transplant waiting list as soon as possible.
As Hugh came to terms with this news, his mum put herself forward as a potential live kidney donor and underwent testing, although her age and smaller body mass suggested that this might not be feasible.
By February 2017, Hugh’s kidney function had dropped to the extent that he required dialysis, and began home peritoneal dialysis. Initially this required treatment during the day, but before long he was using an automated machine overnight. This allowed him to carry on working, and he was able to keep up his fitness levels right up until transplantation.
In July 2017, Hugh got a call to say that a kidney was potentially available and he began the process of preparation for an emergency transplant at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham. However, the organ was proven not to be suitable.
Amazingly, it was confirmed that Hugh’s mum was going to be a suitable donor, and Hugh received his kidney in September 2017. Hugh’s health immediately improved, and he could feel the difference from the moment he woke up in recovery, saying: “It was like someone had turned on a light switch.”
Both Hugh and his mum made a fully recovery from their operations and Hugh was able to attend his first Transplant Games in August 2018 in Birmingham, and won a bronze medal in the 5km time trial cycling event!
Reflecting on the Transplant Games, Hugh said: “Competing in the Transplant Games as part of the Birmingham Adult Transplant Team was an amazing experiences and quite emotional with my mum, family and supporters from my local cycling club cheering me on.
“Meeting and hearing stories of fellow transplant recipients, as well as from donor families and people who had made non-directed altruistic donations, was very thought provoking and humbling experience.
“It really does makes you realise how lucky you are to have a second chance at life and that one of the most important things we recipients can do is raise awareness and demonstrate that remarkable transformation transplantation can make.”
Thanks to his transplant, Hugh is able to live a normal life and has spoken to prospective transplant recipients in patient seminars at his local renal unit. He continues to cycle with his cycling club and with his family, even competing in the West Midlands Cycle Cross League.
Hugh has also organised local rounds of the league at Newport in Shropshire, where a highlight was getting to meet Evie Richards, the 2018 under-23s women’s world champion.