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‘I feel so very, very lucky’: First Londoner to receive kidney transplant since second wave


The first Londoner to receive a kidney transplant since organ donations were halted by the pandemic’s second wave said today it had been life-changing.

Jane Altneu, 71, received a kidney from her daughter Emily Altneu, 34, in surgery carried out at St George’s Hospital, Tooting, last month.

Ms Altneu said: “It is genuinely amazing. I already have so much more energy, and I’m eating all my favourite foods that were prohibited pre-transplant. It’s incredible — and I feel so very, very lucky.”

Non-urgent solid transplants were paused across the NHS in January to free up intensive care beds. There was also concern about the impact of the virus on patients whose immune systems were “switched off” to prevent a donated organ being rejected.

Ms Altneu, a former teacher, was forced to retire early when polycystic kidney disease, a genetic condition she inherited from her mother, caused her kidneys to fail. She had managed the condition for years but eventually a transplant was the only option.

She said: “I’ve heard kidney disease described as the silent killer and I would say that’s very accurate. You can just achieve less and less until you can’t do anything except rest.” She and her daughter, who works as an actress and Pilates teacher, were admitted to St George’s on February 23. The transplant happened the next day. Both left shortly afterwards.

Emily Altneu said: “The surgeons were just outstanding and we were blown away by their skill. We were also made to feel so safe even with our operation taking place during a pandemic.”

Abbas Ghazanfar, consultant transplant surgeon and clinical lead for transplant surgery at St George’s, said: “The past 12 months have been so difficult for patients awaiting transplants, and it has made an already stressful situation even more challenging.

‘’We are so pleased to have re-started our kidney transplant programme again – and our focus now is on making sure we get patients treated, so we can improve their quality of life in the way that only transplantation can.’’

Last year, during the first wave of the pandemic, the number of transplants of all organs in England fell by more than 20 per cent, to3,102.


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