The greatest gift of all.jpg

The greatest gift of all

By DAISY SAMPSON [email protected]

A PR expert who was asked to boost fund-raising efforts to pay for a kidney transplant for an Algarve resident has helped in an unexpected way – by donating one of her kidneys.

When Kate Rouse, the managing director of Algarve-based Yellow Kite, first met Rod Smyth and his wife Touchelle last year, Rod had been waiting for a life-saving kidney transplant operation for 11 years. 

Now Rod is the proud owner of a new kidney, Kate’s, following an operation carried out at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford on March 18.

Kate Rouse has been discharged and Rod was due to also leave the hospital yesterday (Thursday).

Both will need to stay in the UK for at least a month, at a property in Oxford donated for use by a friend of Kate’s.

Following the operation, Kate Rouse said she is in high spirits: “I feel really good and I am amazed just how well I feel but I am taking it slowly because everyone has told me that I have too!

 “People ask me why I did it – and I don’t really have an answer, except for it just seemed to be the right thing to do.”

She added: “I had become so involved with the family and learnt so much about just how dialysis affects your life. When we had raised all the money we needed, all that was left was to find a kidney.”

A delighted Touchelle Smyth said: “I first met Kate last April and she took us by storm,” said Touchelle. “She came in and asked ‘how much do you need and how do you want to do it?’ I told her I wanted a party and she suggested the Sheraton, although I was only thinking along the lines of a village hall!”

Kate Rouse stepped in to help Touchelle and Rod with their fund-raising initiatives from that point on.

“Kate catapulted the fund from 10,000 euros to 50,000 euros in only five months, and did it all for nothing in return,” said Touchelle Smyth.

Fund-raising events to help pay for the operation included the Summer Ball 4 Rod held in September, a Golf and Dine 4 Rod tournament in December and a Car Boot Sale 4 Rod.

However, despite reaching the target required to pay for the operation, the family were still without a kidney and plans for Touchelle to donate one of her own were possible but dangerous for Rod.

“In November, Kate mentioned that she was the same blood type as Rod and went for a blood test.  I remember thinking ‘you can’t do that, you have already done enough’ but she was adamant and took the stance of “what will be will be,” said Touchelle Smyth.

Following a compatibility test in January, Kate, Rod and Touchelle found out on February 2 that she was a match and would be able to donate her kidney to Rod.

Since then, it has been a rollercoaster, said Touchelle, for all involved.

“When the doctors told us that Kate was a match they pencilled in a date for March 18.  It was amazing that everything had happened so quickly. After 11 years of waiting, it had come down to the last six weeks,” said Touchelle Smyth.

“Thanks to all the money that has been raised, my daughter Phoebe and I are able to fly out and see Rod and Kate as often as is possible and we will be staying in the UK for the Easter holidays while Phoebe is off school.”

She added: “Now that we do not need to organise fund-raising and Rod does not need to spend his time receiving dialysis, we will be able to concentrate on getting our lives back to normal.”

As for Kate, there are no regrets: “Organ donation is something that I am very passionate about and being a live donor meant that Rod and I could prepare both mentally and physically for the operation.  Because of this, it gives Rod the best chance of a quick recovery, which is, after all, what we all want the most.” (available in English).