The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Les Holburt

Kidney transplant recipient

LesLes Holburt from Barnsley received his kidney transplant almost 27 years ago.

Les became ill in 1990. After suffering with what doctors thought was flu, he was prescribed beta blockers and sent for a blood test. As his symptoms, including watery eyes and pressure on the back of his neck worsened, one evening Les’ wife was forced to dial 999 after he couldn’t sleep or eat. On arrival, medics confirmed that Les’ kidneys had failed and he was moments away from going into a renal coma. Les was rushed into hospital and put straight onto dialysis, leaving him in hospital for several weeks.

When he was discharged, he was told he’d need haemodialysis three times per week – Monday, Wednesday and Friday. His job as an IT Project Manager was, fortunately, unaffected and his employees allowed him time off for treatment. However, the treatment took its toll on Les and relationships became strained, resulting in a divorce from his wife.

Accepting an organ from a live donor wasn’t practiced at the time so it had to be a cadaver transplant and it had to match perfectly.

One Monday after dialysis, Les’ life changed.

“I would’ve normally gone home from the hospital but for some reason I changed my routine that day and went to my girlfriend’s house. Little did I know the police had been sent to my flat to tell me a match had been found! Luckily for me, one of the nurses on the dialysis ward knew a friend of mine so was able to pass on details of where I was.”

Les recalls the exact moment he got the call. “They said: ‘We’ve got a kidney – do you want it?’ and I had to think for a second. It just didn’t feel real.”

Les arrived at the hospital with his girlfriend just before midnight and fourteen hours later, the operation began.

After two weeks, he was allowed to go home. Les then had to attend the renal unit every week, which was reduced to every four weeks, every month and now he only attends once per quarter.

Les’ transplant has given him a new lease of life and he’s been able to travel all over the world, visiting countries such as Australia, Japan and China. As well as travelling, since his transplant Les has embarked on a series of charity projects to which he contributes on a voluntary basis.