An 87-year-old Hillsborough woman celebrated a special event on Sunday, when she became one of the oldest surviving female kidney recipients in Northern Ireland.
Anna Andrews, of Forthill Road, believed to be the sixth longest transplant survivor in Northern Ireland, had family and friends around to her home to celebrate. She had a double transplant 40 years ago.
Anna was just 46, married and a busy mother of two young daughters when she had her double transplant on February 19, 1977.
Despite being grateful for the kidney - which gave the then young mother a second chance of life - her only regret has been that she has never been able to locate the family of the donor.
All she knows is that the donor was a man was in his 20s, who had died in a motorbike accident in Scotland.
Despite many attempts by her and her family she has been unable to trace the family to thank them.
Anna, was only in her 30s when she suffered renal complications after her youngest daugher was born. She suffered tiredness, was listless and bloated.
When she was put on dialysis she spent two days in hospital and away from home, for the next two years, before she received the call that would change her life.
The first kidney that was found for Anna was not a match but when one was found, the kidney, her consultant Dr McKeown from the City Hospital told her, was as perfect a match as you could find, even right down to the antibodies.
Anna recalls she was told before the operation she would be half a stone lighter when they replaced her kidneys.
“It’s funny as I have never been able to put that weight back on again,” she laughed. “I am immensely grateful that I received the kidney when I did. Organ donation is such an amazing thing. Though I am aware, only too aware, that someone died to give me a second chance of life.
“At that time, they would never divulge any information about who the donor was. That is my only regret, not ever being able to find the family to thank them.”
Indeed it was not the only celebration for the family this week. Anna’s grandchildren Steven and Suzie celebrated their birthdays , Steven on February 21 and Suzie on February 20.
The family hope Anna’s story will encourage others to donate.
They placed a post about Anna on an organ donor Facebook site and got 4,000 likes.