Bellshill man meets stranger who gave him the gift of life

Allan McGowan meets Jennie Differ seven weeks after undergoing a kidney transplantAllan McGowan meets Jennie Differ seven weeks after undergoing a kidney transplant
Allan McGowan meets Jennie Differ seven weeks after undergoing a kidney transplant
A Bellshill man has met the complete stranger who donated her kidney to save his life.

Jennie Differ (26) from Kirkintilloch, registered her interest in helping Allan McGowan (25) after hearing about his plight.

Allan, who had experienced progressive loss of his kidney function after being diagnosed with Alport syndrome as a teenager, was told his kidneys were functioning at just 20 per cent back in 2017 and prepared to start dialysis.

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But soon after, Allan’s kidney function dropped to just eight per cent, and he was rushed to hospital to have an emergency line fitted – just one week after becoming a new dad.

He was put on the deceased donor waiting list and a year and a half later, he received the call telling him a living donor had been found.

Speaking about her motivations Jennie said: “I regularly give blood, am on the Anthony Nolan register, but thought you could only donate a kidney to a family member. When I read Allan’s story, I just remember thinking I want to do this, and made the call.

“When I spoke to the donor coordinator, she explained I might not be a match for Allan, but I told her that didn’t matter. I’d happily help anybody.”

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Allan added: “Dialysis was hard going, having all the appointments, especially with Colton being born. But I just pulled through and got on with it.

“It was strange getting the call as I wasn’t expecting it at all. I didn’t know what to think. It was brilliant to think there was a chance I could get my life back, and that there was someone that would do that for me.

“Every test to check the donor was a match came back 100 per cent perfect. Everyone said I immediately had a better colour, and I felt warm for the first time in ages. I couldn’t believe it.”

Allan and Jennie met on Thursday, which was also World Kidney Day, just seven weeks after the successful operation at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

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Allan said: “I must have said thanks about a hundred times. It was a totally selfless act, and just shows you that there are good people out there.

“I’m recovering well and am able to do so much more with my wee boy, who keeps me on my toes. Being rid of dialysis is brilliant. I have a future and I have Jennie to thank for that.”

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