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‘I donated my kidney to my twin brother, this is what it was like’

Watch: Woman donates kidney to twin brother after tumour causes irreversible damage

A woman has revealed why donating a kidney to her brother was a "no-brainer" after she was revealed to be a "perfect match".

Kira Owen, 29, a supervisor, from Plymouth, got tested after her twin, Lloyd, was left facing being on dialysis for life after a tumour in his neck caused irreversible damage to his kidneys.

"Lloyd said we could get tested but there was no pressure," Kira explains.

"I knew my chances of being a match were high so it was absolutely a no-brainer for me.

"When I found out I was a match I was so happy that I could help my brother but at the same time it was scary as I didn't know what to expect."

In 2015, Lloyd was hospitalised after he broke his kneecap. While recovering doctors discovered that he had a tumour on his parathyroid glands, which produce a hormone that regulates calcium levels.

"My body was producing lots of calcium then realised it didn't need it and would deposit the calcium in my kidney which led to the damage," he explains.

Kira Owen donated a kidney to her twin brother, Lloyd, after a tumour caused irreversible damage. (Kira Owen/SWNS)
Kira Owen donated a kidney to her twin brother, Lloyd, after a tumour caused irreversible damage. (Kira Owen/SWNS)

While the tumour was removed in 2015 it had already severely damaged his kidneys.

In February 2023, Lloyd was told that he would either need a kidney transplant or would need to be on dialysis for life.

It was this revelation, which prompted his sister to look into donating her own kidney.

Kira went for general observations in July 2023 and a "full body MOT" in September before she learnt she was a match.

"I was scared but relieved that he was going to get help," she says of the moment she was told.

"It all happened very quickly. It was like 'oh s**t are we actually doing this?'"

Lloyd and Kira as children, aged 5. (Kira Owen/SWNS)
Lloyd and Kira as children, aged 5. (Kira Owen/SWNS)

Lloyd, an event manager, from Plymouth, Devon, adds: "It was a quick conclusion - Kira really wanted to do it.

"I was happy, I was relieved, but there was a lot of emotions regarding it - it was a big part of my life last year."

In November 2023, both Kira and Lloyd had the operations.

Kira went into surgery first and was in theatre for two and a half hours before Lloyd was taking in for his four-hour transplant surgery.

The op was a success and a relieved Lloyd burst into tears when he saw his sister after they both came round from the anaesthetic.

"I think we were both relieved that we came out of the other end of it," Kira explains.

"As soon as he saw me he burst into tears which was weird as I had never seen him cry before."

Kira in hospital to donate a kidney to her twin brother. (Kira Owen/SWNS)
Kira in hospital to donate a kidney to her twin brother. (Kira Owen/SWNS)
Lloyd recovering after his kidney transplant. (Kira Owen/SWNS)
Lloyd recovering after his kidney transplant. (Kira Owen/SWNS)

Usually transplant patients don't get to see their family for a few days after the operation because they are kept in isolation, due to a weakened immune system.

But Lloyd was immunosuppressed, Kira asked if they could be placed on the on the same ward for support.

The pair were able to bunk up in the same ward at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, while they recovered together.

"I have had hospital stays before and they are lonely," Lloyd explains.

"On a transplant ward, all recipients are immunosuppressed and can't have visitors, so having Kira there was good as I had someone who I could talk to and confide in."

The pair were placed in the same room to recovery together. (Kira Owen/SWNS)
The pair were placed in the same room to recovery together. (Kira Owen/SWNS)

While Lloyd and Kira are still in recovery from their operations, both are doing well.

"The improvement in my life was almost immediate," Lloyd adds.

"The difference in my health from day one of the transplant is very good."

Lloyd and Kira reveal their surgery scars. (Kira Owen/SWNS)
Lloyd and Kira reveal their surgery scars. (Kira Owen/SWNS)

Living organ donation: the facts

Organ donation is when you decide to give an organ to save or transform the life of another person. You can donate some organs while you are alive, and this is called living organ donation.

Across the UK, more than 1,000 people each year donate a kidney or part of their liver while they are still alive to a relative, friend or someone they do not know.

The most commonly donated organ by a living person is a kidney. A healthy person can lead a normal life with only one functioning kidney and therefore they are able to donate the other to help someone in need of a kidney transplant.

Part of a liver can also be transplanted from a living donor to help someone in need of a liver transplant.

Living kidney transplantation is usually very successful with 96% of donated kidneys working well a year after the operation. This compares with a success rate of 93% for kidneys from deceased donors.

For more information about organ donation in the UK visit organdonation.nhs.uk

Additional reporting SWNS.

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