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University of Nottingham student inspired to help others after a kidney transplant





A student has been inspired to help other young people after a life-saving kidney transplant.

Sophie Ashmore-Hayes, of Newark, was nine when she fell critically-ill hours after arriving in Cyprus while on a family holiday in 2005.

Having been taken to a local hospital, tests revealed that Sophie’s kidneys were not functioning properly and she was transferred to a hospital in Nicosia, Cyprus’ capital.

L-R. Michelle - Ward Manager, Sophie, Claire - Play Specialist and Dr Martin Christian -Paediatric Nephrologist. (7360646)
L-R. Michelle - Ward Manager, Sophie, Claire - Play Specialist and Dr Martin Christian -Paediatric Nephrologist. (7360646)

“It was terrifying, especially for my parents,” said Sophie, who is now a biomedical science student at the University of Nottingham.

“On the intensive care ward there were only eight beds and we knew I was lucky to have one.

“Doctor’s on the ward told my parents it had been touch-and-go and if I had arrived on the unit just two hours later, I may not have survived.”

After 21 days of dialysis ­— a treatment that removes excess water, solutes, and toxins from blood ­— Sophie travelled back to England.

Sophie was taken by ambulance to the Children’s Renal Unit at Nottingham’s City Hospital, where she found out her kidneys were functioning between 10 to 20% and she would need a kidney transplant in order to continue to live without dialysis.

Sophie was put on the transplant waiting list and waited a year for treatment, during which time her mum, Kate, underwent a series of tests and was found to be a donor match.

The kidney transplant was for the week before Christmas in 2006.

L-R. Michelle - Ward Manager, Sophie, Claire - Play Specialist and Dr Martin Christian -Paediatric Nephrologist. (7360650)
L-R. Michelle - Ward Manager, Sophie, Claire - Play Specialist and Dr Martin Christian -Paediatric Nephrologist. (7360650)

The 21-year-old said: “It was a surreal moment but my mum always said from the beginning that she would do all that she could to help.”.

“We both went in to surgery at the same time ­— I remember feeling scared.

“Mum went into theatres that morning and I was taken down in the afternoon.

“It was a very strange as we were both in hospital but on different wards, so we didn’t get to see each other until days after the transplant.”

The transplant was a success and in December last year, the University of Nottingham student celebrated 12 years since having a new kidney.

Dr Martin Christian, the lead consultant for eight years of her treatment, said: “Sophie is the embodiment of what transplantation can do as it really can change lives.

“For people like Sophie transplant is a part of their life, but it is not all of it.”

Sophie now volunteers at the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, where she received her treatment, and is an active member of the British Transplant Games team.

She said:“In the beginning when I was on dialysis and taking medication every day, I really did struggle with adapting to this life change.

“I didn’t know anybody else in a similar situation – it was really hard.

“Since my transplant over a decade ago there have been so many medical interventions ­— it’s phenomenal, this is what has inspired me to study biomedical science at university, to eventually go down the research route.

“I always say that physically the doctors and nurses are the ones that saved my life but mentally and emotionally the peer support from the youth service at Nottingham University Hospitals and the opportunities they have shown me has saved my life.”

For information on how to become an NHS Organ Donor visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 123 23 23.



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