Sutton grandmother celebrates 'gift of life' 40 years on

Keighley News: Kathleen Hart, who is celebrating the 40th anniversary of her kidney transplant Kathleen Hart, who is celebrating the 40th anniversary of her kidney transplant

A grandmother is celebrating her “gift of life” 40 years after she was given a donated kidney.

Kathleen Hart underwent a transplant at St James’s Hospital in Leeds in December 1973.

The 70-year-old, from Meadow Lea in Sutton, is believed to be the hospital’s longest surviving transplant patient and one of the longest survivors in the country.

To celebrate her achievement, she held a special party for family and close friends at the home of her son, Robert, on the anniversary of the surgery.

Kathleen said: “I can’t believe it’s 40 years ago – time has flown. “But it has meant I have been able to see Robert go to school, enjoy having grandchildren and visiting a friend in Canada.

“I’m living proof of how vital organ donation is. It really does allow people to live a full and normal life, like we have done. I’ve been given the gift of life.”

Her husband, Craven councillor Ken Hart, was inspired to get into local politics by the “heart-warming and generous” response of visitors following Kathleen’s operation.

“Everybody was so supportive and organised fundraising events for Kidney Research. I wanted to pay something back,” he said.

Kathleen had been poorly since she was aged about 25, and had got steadily worse.

She was eventually put on dialysis, but it meant travelling to hospital in Leeds three times a week and spending up to 15 hours a time on the machine.

But when the chance came two years later to have a transplant, Ken had reservations about the operation.

“I was looking after her and was frightened about the surgery,” he admitted.

But it proved to be the right decision.

Kathleen said: “I was frightened when I went for the surgery, but I knew I had to go through with it and take the chance in order to lead a normal life.”

She continues to take medication to stop rejection of the kidney, but has generally enjoyed good health throughout the past 40 years.

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