Sunderland woman thought to have world’s oldest successful transplant with 100-year-old kidney


A Sunderland woman with a 100-year-old kidney she received from her mother in the 1970s is thought to have the world’s oldest successfully transplanted kidney.

Sue Westhead, from Houghton-le-Spring, received the swap in 1973 when her mother Ann Metcalfe was 57.

Now, 43 years on, the kidney is still going strong, despite doctors usually estimating that a transplant from a living donor will last 20 years at most.

Ms Westhead was diagnosed with kidney disease and had only one tenth of normal renal function.

BBC Newcastle spoke to the 68-year-old who said: “It was a pretty scary time, even when I was still on the ward people were dying.

“I remember thinking if I get five years I’ll be happy.

“That was 43 years ago and my kidney is heading for 101 years-old in November.”

Ms Westhead added: “My Mum literally gave me life, because I wouldn’t have lived much longer.

“I could hardly walk, I was a different colour – I was yellow and all of a sudden I had a rosy glow.”

The Houghton-le-Spring resident said she has looked after herself and taken 20 pills a day to make sure the kidney was not rejected.

Her mother would have been 101 this year, she added, and paid tribute to her “good genes”.

The President of the British Transplantation Society and Professor of Transplant Surgery at Newcastle University, Professor Derek Manas, said: “It’s an amazing story of encouragement and hope for people on dialysis and for encouraging people to donate as living donors or to join the Organ Donor Register.

“I think Sue must be one of the longest survivors.”

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