A teenager explains how organ donation has changed her life

Posted on Thursday 23rd September 2021
Nazish and Sahar Riaz

Sahar was given a kidney by her mother Nazish

This Organ Donation Week, Sahar and her family are sharing their life-changing story of donating and receiving a kidney at Evelina London.

Evelina London is one of the country’s leading centres for organ transplants. Sahar has recently celebrated the first anniversary of her new kidney, which was donated by her mum during the coronavirus pandemic.

The sports-loving teen from West Sussex said she now has so much more energy since her transplant. After two years of dialysis and treatments, she has now started college and has ambitions to study law at university.

Sahar, now 16, had been active and enjoyed playing football and cricket. But when she was 14, she began to feel increasingly tired and unwell. After undergoing blood tests and other examinations, she found out there was a problem with her kidneys and that they were only working at 7% of full function. Sahar was referred to Evelina London for dialysis, while she went on the waiting list for a new kidney. Her family were all tested to see if they could donate to Sahar and mum Nazish, 40, was found to be a good match. Despite the ongoing pandemic, Nazish and Sahar’s operations went ahead in summer 2020.

Sahar said: “The idea of the transplant was a bit scary at first. I didn’t know what would happen. All the nurses and doctors were really friendly and nice. They talk to you about how things will go.

“I was quite happy about my mum giving me her kidney. I’m much better now – I’m not so tired or so sick. And I can play sports again. The transplant has given me lots of energy.”

Mum-of-four Nazish, who works in a nursery, said: “Sahar is a brave girl – she never gives up. The decision to donate a kidney to my daughter was daunting, and also comforting. I had to have many tests and examinations to make sure I was physically and mentally healthy enough for it. Through it all, the staff were so reassuring. They kept me really calm.”

Nazish said she would encourage any potential donor to think of the difference they could make.

She added: “Don’t be hesitant. If it is for the betterment of your child, you wouldn’t hesitate to donate your organ. The transplant makes you see life from a different perspective, when you see your child go back to their normal routine. It was quite overwhelming. We are so grateful and pleased with the hospital teams. The nurses at Evelina London are really like family now. During the pandemic, they have encouraged us to meet other families through video calls, and to share our ideas and our experiences. That helps a lot.”

Many of our staff have been particularly reflecting on the importance of organ donation this week. Grainne Walsh, an advanced nurse practitioner in our transplant team, says: “We’ve had several of our children with transplants at Evelina London start school this month, something which wouldn’t have been possible without organ donation!”