Meet the “kidney twins” – a St Andrews woman and the complete stranger to whom she gave the gift of life.
Margaret Jackson would not be living the life she is today if Maureen Jack had not selflessly donated one of her kidneys a decade ago.
Mrs Jack, 72, became one of the first people in Scotland to become an altruistic donor.
In another twist she went on to form a real life bond with the woman who received the organ. This is highly unusual as most donors and recipients have little or no contact.
Mrs Jack described the operation as a “minor inconvenience” but it was an act that made a “huge difference” to Mrs Jackson, who lives in Cumbria.
They have shared their story to celebrate World Kidney Day on Thursday March 14.
Mrs Jackson, 67, said: “I would be dead now if I hadn’t had a kidney transplant because I was in desperate need.
“What Maureen did was amazing and she has given me my life back.”
Mrs Jack, an elder at St Leonard’s Parish Church and member of the Church of Scotland’s world mission council, is a supporter of the Give a Kidney Scotland charity and hopes more people will become altruistic donors.
In Scotland there are around 500 people on the kidney transplant waiting list and in the last 10 years 264 people have died waiting for an operation.
She has never regretted her decision, but admitted the reaction among her circle of friends was mixed.
She was inspired by a very personal reason for making such a donation – World Kidney Day falls on the anniversary of her husband George’s death 20 years ago.
While his death was not related to kidney problems, she said: “I would have done anything to give him his life back.
“So being able to do that for someone else has been important to me.”
She has also inspired others, as a retired GP had joined her in becoming an altruistic kidney donor after they had spoken.
“It would be terrific if some folk in the Church would also consider this kind of giving.”
A week after her surgery Mrs Jack was walking up to a mile, describing the procedure as a minor inconvenience.
“It’s good to know that ‘our’ kidney is still going strong,” she said.
The two women who share so much first met four years ago, after some years of anonymous contact through their hospitals.
Chris Jones, chairman of Give a Kidney Scotland and a kidney donor himself, said: “The 78 people who have so far donated a kidney to a stranger in Scotland over the last 10 years have undoubtedly helped to save the lives of their recipients.”