A mum has launched a desperate appeal to find a kidney donor for her eleven-year-old – just six months after her dad gave one of his to her sister.
Jessica Kemp and Darren Atkinson’s two daughters both developed an extremely rare genetic kidney disease as babies, causing their organ function to rapidly decline.
Darren, 41, donated one of his kidneys to 10-year-old Poppy-Mae Atkinson in January and since then, according to mum Jessica, 33, she has been doing “fantastically”.
But the family, from Leeds, West Yorks., have suffered another devastating blow now, after doctors told them Emily, 11, is also in desperate need of an organ transplant.
Jessica has made an urgent appeal for anyone who might be able to help to step forward.
She said: “It has been stressful and difficult. We knew Emily would need a transplant, but we didn’t think it would be so soon after Poppy’s.”
In a direct plea, she added: “Please consider it. It would mean a longer and healthier life for her.
“We would be eternally grateful and we couldn’t thank them enough if they were able to do it.”
Doctors say if Emily does not get a transplant by the end of the year she will need to go on dialysis, which would require round-the-clock medical attention.
The 11-year-old is due to start secondary school in September and the family fear her education will be further hampered by her condition if it goes untreated.
Both girls suffer from a disease called cystinosis, an incurable condition that only affects 2,000 people in the world.
The condition causes a build-up of the amino-acid cystine in the cells of the body and over time these compounds crystallise in the cells.
The crystals form in and damage the kidneys, eyes, thyroid gland and liver.
In the past it was rare for people with the disease to survive into adulthood, however, modern medicine means the life expectancy nowadays is around 50.
Emily’s health started to deteriorate when she was ten months old and she lost weight after having difficulty eating solid food.
After numerous tests she was diagnosed with the disease aged 18 months.
Poppy was diagnosed with cystinosis when she was just eight-weeks-old.
Both girls have difficulty swallowing solid food and are fed partly via feeding tubes inserted into their stomachs.
Poppy started on kidney dialysis at Leeds General Infirmary three times a week last summer and her kidney function declined to just eight per cent in late 2019.
Doctors initially told Darren, who weighed 16 stone, that he could not undergo transplant surgery because his body mass index was too high.
He went on a strict diet and shed four stone in two months before donating the kidney in a gruelling six hour operation at St James’s Hospital in Leeds.
Darren, who is separated from Jessica, said: “I wasn’t going to hesitate. My daughter needed a kidney and that was it.”
The transplant has transformed Poppy Mae’s health and now the family is seeking a Good Samaritan to give 11-year-old Emily the gift of life.
Miss Kemp said: “It went amazingly well. Now Poppy is doing fantastic. She has gained a lot of weight and has got a lot more energy.
“Poppy is not cured but it will give her a lot longer to live.”
Potential donors to Emily must be blood group B and be healthy non smokers aged under 60.
Anyone who thinks they might be able to help should contact Leeds Kidney Appeal at email@example.com.