Braehead man will forever be grateful to donor’s family

It is two years now since Danny McQuillan received the kidney transplant which changed his life.

And he is sharing his story during Organ Donation Week in the hopes of persuading more people to sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register.

Man's best friend...Danny got Ruben three months after his transplant to help rebuild his muscle tone and stay active, as well as keeping him company.

Man's best friend...Danny got Ruben three months after his transplant to help rebuild his muscle tone and stay active, as well as keeping him company.

The 59-year-old Braehead father of two discovered his kidneys were failing 13 years ago after registering with a new doctor.

He was sent for tests and subsequently diagnosed with chronic kidney failure, with his kidneys then functioning at 70 per cent.

It came as a huge shock to Danny who felt healthy and described himself as being as “fit as a fiddle”.

His kidney function was monitored every three months. He was placed on the transplant waiting list in 2013 and in 2015, when his kidney function reached just three per cent, he started peritoneal dialysis at home.

Eternally grateful...Danny McQuillan would love to give his donor family a huge hug. Instead, he is sharing his story during Organ Donation Week 2018 in the hope of encouraging more people to sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register.

Eternally grateful...Danny McQuillan would love to give his donor family a huge hug. Instead, he is sharing his story during Organ Donation Week 2018 in the hope of encouraging more people to sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register.

It was a lot for Danny and his wife, April, to deal with.

He explained: “I had to do dialysis for seven to eight hours every day.

“You need to use eight litres of fluid every time so we were getting fortnightly supplies delivered, along with all the tubes, bags, soap and hand cream.

“April had to carry all of that upstairs every two weeks, in addition to working full time and looking after her mother.

“She also had to contend with the mood swings – I was on a lot of tablets so I’d be as happy as Larry one minute and really crabbit the next.

“I tried to do the dialysis in bed at night but it kept waking me up so I was like a bear with a sore head.

“So I ended up doing it during the day and watching a lot of daytime television.

“I felt rotten most of the time and didn’t want to do anything. I didn’t even go to my daughter Chloe’s wedding because I felt so low and was worried about infection.”

Danny, a former Sky TV sales manager, had been in denial for years about the impact IG neuropathy was having on him. But by the time he started dialysis, he couldn’t walk up the stairs.

Nine months later, after returning from a holiday in Yorkshire, he ignored his phone the first time it rang – believing it to be PPI.

But April answered the second time and discovered Danny’s doctor on the line.

He said: “It came out of the blue – I couldn’t believe it when he said they had found me a match.

“We were just back from our holiday that day so the timing was perfect.”

But Danny, who spent a year in hospital when he was 17 after a motorbike accident, didn’t believe he was going to be so lucky again.

He explained: “We went to the hospital that night but I kept on thinking it wasn’t going to happen. I just didn’t think I would be that lucky.

“The following morning though the nurse came and told me to get into my gown – I was going down to theatre.

“When I woke up it was like a miracle. It’s the only way I can describe it.

“I was out within ten days and everything has been great ever since.”

Having been denied some of his favourite foods for 13 years, Danny was able to enjoy chocolate and fish suppers again.

He piled on the pounds as a result and decided to get a four-legged friend to help build up his muscle tone and stay in shape.

“Having the freedom to eat things I hadn’t had for 12 years was amazing,” he said.

“I’d had to cut out chocolate, baked potatoes, chips, peanuts, bananas.

“Lots of things you think are good for you were off the menu too – I could have white bread but not brown, double cream but not single.

“I was on a strict diet and on dialysis, everything had a metallic taste to it.

“I put on a stone and a half quite quickly after getting out of hospital.

“So I got my dog Ruben three months after the transplant. He’s been a huge part of my recovery, helping to keep me company and active while April is at work.”

Danny felt great after the transplant but later, while doing the garden, slipped five discs in his back so is not yet back to full fitness.

But he is keen to share his story to encourage people to sign up to the register.

He has also regularly spoken to other patients waiting on transplants.

He added: “I’m just a normal guy so I think they feel comfortable asking me things they wouldn’t want to ask the doctor. I’m delighted to be able to help.

“I hope more people will consider signing the register – I would happily give mine, if I could.”

As for his donor’s family, Danny – who is dyslexic – has struggled to find the right words to write them a letter.

However, he added: “I wish I could give the family a huge hug to let them know what they’ve done for me.

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for that person – it’s as simple as that. I will always be grateful.”

To join the NHS Organ Donor Register, visit weneedeverybody.org.