Rochelle Pont says she is glad she was able to give one of her kidneys away to someone who needed it. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Giving a kidney away to a stranger

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About 18 months ago local woman Rochelle Pont was on social media when a story popped up about someone needing a kidney transplant.

The story told of how difficult life could be for people living on dialysis.

“It struck a chord,” says Rochelle.

So, she started investigating how to help.

She did tests and research and then started seeing messaging about kidney transplants everywhere.

“I thought ‘I’ve got two, I don’t need two, so let’s help someone”.

She looked into doing a ‘kidney exchange’ programme for people who donated altruistically.

It meant that someone in the recipient’s family would have to donate a kidney at some point in the future.

But then she got a call.

They had found someone who was a match.

“A week out you think ‘oh my god’ it’s all getting real.”

Rochelle was flown to Wellington and shown around the ward where she met people who were on dialysis.

It confirmed to her that she was making the right decision.

“I’m so pleased I did it. It can make such a difference. There are so many kidneys walking around.”

Rochelle says the Ministry of Health are paying 100 per cent of her salary while she is off from her catering work at Greenacres Golf Club.

They also paid for her flights and accommodation in Wellington.

“This is something you can do to help just by taking some time. It needs to be put out there so people know. You might not be able to help someone in your family, but you might be able to help someone down the road.”

Rochelle says she doesn’t mind that she doesn’t know who has her kidney.

“I’m happy knowing there is someone out there who doesn’t have to have dialysis this week.”

There are hundreds of people waiting for a healthy organ in New Zealand and anybody in good health with two normal kidneys may be able to give one of their own kidneys to another person.

The Ministry of Health says a potential donor should have a genuine interest in donating and a compatible blood group with the person needing the transplant, and does not have to be a relative.