In 2010 Lyall Smith, from Robinvale in rural Victoria, opted to undergo surgery to donate one of his kidneys to his then 31-year old son, Bradley.
For Lyall, it was an easy decision. He was selected as the safest donor over his wife or daughter and five years on, Lyall still talks with relief that he was able to help, and has gratitude for the pathology tests that allowed him to do so;
“Bradley was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2008 and it was killing me to see him undergoing dialysis three times a week for four hours each time. As well as the dialysis, he required daily blood tests to monitor the effectiveness of the treatment.
When I found out I was a possible match for Bradley I had no hesitation in wanting to donate one of my kidneys. However, many tests are needed to make sure you are a ‘match’ and that the donated organ won’t be attacked by the recipient’s immune system (‘rejection’). We both underwent 18 months of pathology tests to confirm we were a match and that Bradley was healthy enough to go ahead.”
Five years on and Lyall still relies on pathology to monitor his own health – he visits St Vincent’s hospital in Melbourne at least once a year to check his iron, cholesterol and prostate health. Bradley also attends every three months for checks on potential side effects of the medication he has to take to avoid his body rejecting the kidney. Lyall knows the family will be reliant on pathology for the rest of their lives.
“Without pathology my son would not be alive. And with illnesses like kidney failure on the rise it’s more important than ever that people don’t take the amazing service in Australia for granted.”