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Jake Russell and Matt KetleyPictured: Jake Russell receives his Student of the Year Award from Apollo's Matt Ketley.

A student and his mum are looking forward to a happy, healthy 2014 after he donated one of his kidneys to her.

Jake Russell (24), who is completing his apprenticeship in Fire Alarms & Detection through the College, now has a single kidney after donating his second to his mother Tracey. Jake, Tracey and the rest of the family recently celebrated their first Christmas since the transplant.

Jake, who works for FAFS (Fire Alarm Fabrication Services) was also recently chosen as student of the year in awards sponsored by Apollo Fire Detectors Ltd, for his outstanding performance and willingness to achieve and catch up on his work even when he was away after donating the kidney. Apollo is one of the College’s Employer Champions, who work with the College in a number of ways to support student training and community development.

Jake decided to donate his kidney to his mum after he and his two sisters volunteered for medical tests and were all found to have tissue compatibility. Tracey was in kidney failure and receiving dialysis several times a week.

Jake said: “My mum had told us about her health and said she would be needing a donor eventually, and me and my two sisters said straight away we would be willing. At first she did not want me to do it but I just kept saying I would and in the end she agreed.

“All three of us were a match, but I didn’t want my sisters to go through it and I felt it was my obligation as the oldest. My mum was told she would have to wait two or three years to wait on the donor register, and none of us wanted that for her. She would have been on dialysis three or four times a week all that time.

“It doesn’t worry me having one kidney, it does not really make any difference to my life - although I did worry about my stitches splitting after the operation!”

Jake had a series of tests to check his own health was good enough for him to undergo the operation and live healthily with one kidney. The operation took place at the end of January 2013 at Guys and St Thomas’s Hospital in London Bridge.

He said: “I’d only ever been in hospital for something very minor and I was quite interested in what was going on, including the medical students who observed my treatment, including the operation itself. On the day of the operation I was in the men’s ward and my mum was in the women’s, they were just around the corner from each other and we could see each other just before we went into theatre.

“I know she was really worried about me, she kept asking if I was okay and when we woke up they wheeled our beds together so we could see each other.

“Everyone treats you like you are a hero but it just felt like it was a normal thing to do.”

After the operation Jake stayed with his grandparents while he recovered, and the rest of the family helped look after his mum. His younger brother even received a ‘young carer’s’ award for his support while she recovered.

Jake said: “My mum is fine now, but it could have been quite different if she had not had a donor. She might have been on dialysis three or four times a week, and could even have been having it on Christmas day. It makes me happy to see her getting back to her life.”


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