A loving sister has given her ailing brother a kidney for his birthday – 13 years after their dad did the same for their mother.
Kind-hearted Joanne Boylan, 44, made the selfless gift to younger sibling Rick, a company director, as he turned 40.
She said: “I don’t think it was brave – it’s what I’d like to think anyone would do for their family or a loved one.
“I didn’t even have to think about it. He’s my brother and I wanted to help him.”
Their dad David Flemming gave his kidney to their poorly mother Margaret in 2022 when he proved to be a perfect match, against odds similar to winning the Lottery.
Joanne, who works for the Department of Work and Pensions, said seeing the miraculous change it made to her mum’s life made her decision easier.
Margaret, now 69, of Leyland, Lancs., was diagnosed with kidney failure and was told her only cure was a transplant.
David, 70, couldn’t bear the prospect of her spending the rest of her life on dialysis and – despite being extremely rare for a non-blood relative – found he was a perfect match.
Margaret has since lived life to the full but shortly after her transplant Rick was diagnosed with kidney disease when he was about 26.
Rick said: “For the first 10 years or so, I had a lot of kidney function and just had to have regular check-ups.
“However, my kidney function was declining and I began suffering from tiredness and gout, which was really painful.
“Doctors told me I’d eventually need a kidney transplant and the ideal scenario was a transplant before going on dialysis.”
Following a bad cold a year ago Rick’s health took a nosedive and his kidney function began to decline.
The dad-of-two was put on peritoneal dialysis, carried out at his home on Oxford four times a day, while doctors began to look for a donor.
Several family member volunteered and tests revealed Joanne was a perfect match.
Joanne, of Leyland, said: “I remember my mum’s transplant as being one of the worst days of my life.
“Both my mum and dad were in theatre at the same time. It was awful, as there was nothing we could do except wait.
“But the transplant was a complete success and it changed my mum’s life for the better and my dad has had no ill effects.”
The transplant was carried out in October and Joanne said said she wasn’t nervous at all in the run-up.
She added: “It didn’t really hit me until I walked into the theatre and saw the bed and the anaesthetist.
“I think my lack of nerves was a lot to do with my mum and dad having been through the same thing and seeing them have such a positive outcome.
“However, everyone else was really worried, and the day of the transplant was long and stressful for them.
“It was particularly difficult for my mum and dad as not only were they seeing history repeat itself, they had their son and daughter going through a major operation at the same time.
“If either of them could have swapped places with us, they would have done.”
Rick said he noticed the difference as soon as he woke from the surgery.
He said: “The first thing I noticed was that my constant headache had gone.
“I felt really clear-headed, which felt strange but wonderful.
“I was only in hospital about five days and myself and Joanne were on the same ward in our own rooms, only a short walk away from each other.
“It really helped having my sister there, and we took it in turns to walk to each other’s rooms.”
Mum-of-one Joanne says: “My worst fear had been that after being a perfect match for him something might go wrong on the day.
“But luckily, everything went really well just like it did with our mum and dad. History repeated itself with a positive outcome.”
“It was a very emotional moment when Rick and I saw each other for the first time after the operation.
“He kept saying ‘Thank you’ and telling me that thanks wasn’t enough.
“Just seeing him look so much better was all the thanks I needed.”
She added: “My recovery has been fine and if anyone is in the same situation where they can donate to a family member or loved one, I would urge them to do it and not hesitate.”
Rick said: “Having the transplant has given me my life back and I have a lot more energy and am able to do things with my boys.
“It is all a bit unusual as I have one of my sister’s kidneys while my mum has one of my dad’s kidneys! It is really remarkable when you think about it.
“I feel immense gratitude to Joanne. We have always been close, but this has brought us even closer.”
Proud mum Margaret said: “It was fantastic of Joanne to donate a kidney to her brother and we are very proud of her.
Joanne lives with husband Kevin and five-year-old son Sean and her brother is married to Philippa and has two sons, eight-year-old son Luke and Zachary, five.