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Real Life

REAL LIFE: "My best friend gave me a kidney!"

Lorraine says jaws drop when people find out about her closest pal’s incredible gift.

By Brigid Auchettl
They've been the greatest of friends ever since meeting as young mums in Wollongong, south of Sydney, 35 years ago, and now the pair are literally inseparable after Judy Mitchell gave Lorraine Anker one of her kidneys.
"I'm very conscious that she's with me always," says Lorraine, 67.
"Sometimes I do things and think, 'Oh, that's Judy reacting within me, it's very special.'"
The mum-of-three was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease at 29, but lived symptom-free until 2009 when suddenly everything changed.
Doing something as simple, like washing her hair, left Lorraine completely exhausted.
A blood test soon revealed her kidneys were functioning 
at only 15 per cent capacity because of the disease, 
which causes cysts to grow 
on the kidneys, impairing 
their function.
"I inherited the disease from my mother, so I knew what 
I was facing," says Lorraine.
"I wasn't in pain but I was constantly fatigued and facing 
a lifetime of kidney dialysis unless I could find 
a donor match for 
a kidney transplant."
Lorraine (right) says Judy is an "amazing friend."
Several family members and other friends stepped forward only to be told in the final stages of testing that they weren't a match, including Lorraine's husband Tony, 69, who underwent testing for six months before finding 
out he was an incompatible donor.
"Each time someone put their hand up I'd have glimmer of hope, only to have it dashed again," she admits, recalling the rollercoaster of emotions 
she endured.
"I was floored when Judy volunteered. It's one thing 
to say you'll do it, but to actually follow through 
was incredible. She's 
an amazing friend."
The two women forged a close relationship through their then-young daughters who attended the same school in Wollongong. Despite Lorraine moving to Kensington in Sydney, the pair stayed in close contact speaking on the phone every week.
"I knew 
I had to do something to help," says Judy, also 67.
"I was watching Lorraine deteriorate, and I just knew if I was to offer to be her donor I'd be a match."
The doting grandmother feels she has been given 
a second chance at life
And sure enough, she was. 

With the full support of husband Rob, 67, Judy underwent rigorous testing to make sure she was healthy at the time of donation and strong enough to recover from the invasive operation.
In the ultimate act of love and friendship, Judy donated one of her kidneys to Lorraine almost 10 years ago at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney.
Lorraine says waking up after surgery she instantly felt better after receiving her new kidney.
"The doctors tell me my kidney function is better than most people with two kidneys,' she explains.
"It's a remarkable gift Judy's given me."
The friends are planning to mark the 10-year transplant anniversary in December with 
a celebration for family and friends who have been on their journey with them.
"This is about more than just me," says Lorraine.
"It's about Judy and our families and the support 
and love I received from my doctors and surgeon at the Prince of Wales.
"Even now when I tell people what Judy has done for me, their jaws drop. She really 
is an amazing woman and 
an incredible friend."
To donate to the Prince of Wales Hospital Foundation 
to support kidney research, 
visit powhf.org.au

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