A call for more live kidney donors

By Regan Paranihi

Today is World Kidney Day and the Waikato District Health Board are calling for more live kidney donors through their Give One Gift One campaign.

Every year a number of dialysis patients are selected to go on a waiting list for a new kidney. However, due to the shortage of donors, patients can be waiting between three and four years.

Currently, in the Waikato region, 560 people are on dialysis treatment and more than half are Māori

Drew Henderson, Waikato Hospital Kidney Specialist, says "The main cause for kidney failures for Māori is diabetes and a lot of families, where there is one patient on dialysis with diabetes, they have whānau who also have diabetes."

Te Taiete Eketone became a part of that statistic before connecting with a work colleague, Nicci Sarah, who ultimately saved his life.

"She said she would donate a kidney to me. It took me by surprise at the time, but from five years ago to now we’ve succeeded not only myself but my whānau as well."

Sarah says she never thought about donating an organ, however, seeing a humble man like him so sick changed her mind.

"For me, it was just every time I saw Te just made me want to do it even more and then to see the results afterward was amazing, absolutely amazing."

Health professionals are calling for more donors to come forward as the rise in the number of patients with organ failure continues to rise.

"We need to look across the whole whānau and the wider community to find donors who are medically well enough to be potential donors for patients on dialysis."

Sarah says there's no time like the present so if you can give a little to save a life then go for it.

"I encourage anyone and everyone to get onboard. If you've got one to give and you are healthy, give it, why not give it to save someone."