Man who donated kidney to stranger urges other Kiwis to 'make a difference'

  • 12/03/2020
Man who donated kidney to stranger urges other Kiwis to 'make a difference'
Photo credit: Getty Images.

A Kiwi man who selflessly donated a kidney to a stranger is urging others to make a difference in another person's life. 

"The benefit to the recipient can be massive, in that they may regain a full and satisfying life that is so difficult to achieve when dependant on dialysis," he told Newshub.   

John Mackie looked into donating an organ after seeing a brochure calling for more donors during a routine GP visit.  

He wanted to help if he was able to, aware of the challenges dialysis patients faced during his time working as a medical deliveries driver. 

"I felt that donating a kidney was something I could do to give back after being given a second chance following some challenges earlier in my life," he says.

Mackie and his wife had been blood donors until they moved to the UK in the 1980s and were no longer able to donate when they returned to New Zealand. 

After a series of assessments, he was cleared to be a donor and underwent surgery last year, joining a small number of Kiwis to give organs alive. 

"We are both in favour of donating organs if we were to be involved in unsurvivable accidents so it was not a big step for us to offer a kidney to a stranger who could gain a much-improved life from a live transplant." 

A few months after the operation, John received a card from the recipient of his kidney. He says it gave him the feeling of "anonymous satisfaction".

About 380 New Zealanders are on the national kidney transplant waiting list at one time with the average patient waiting about three years. 

There are three main types of kidney donations - from a deceased person, a willing and healthy family member known to them or an anonymous live donor.

Last year, 220 kidneys were donated to New Zealanders in need. 

“A kidney transplant offers a better quality of life and prolongs a person’s life compared with someone who needs dialysis," Waitematā DHB Clinical Director of Renal Janak de Zoysa says.  

Mackie says the process was not particularly difficult with the benefit largely outweighing the temporary trouble. 

Not everyone is a suitable candidate to be a donor, so the more people who offer a kidney, the greater the likelihood of successful transplants for those in need of a new kidney and a better life. 

"Maybe you too can have the satisfaction of knowing you have made a big difference to somebody else."