Hospital Worker's True Act Of Kindness For A Stranger

A woman went under the knife to give her kidney to a stranger, the first link in a chain of organ donations that could save many lives.

10 News First was given exclusive access to Jane's operation, which kicked off a chain of live organ donation across Australia.

She made the decision to give away her kidney to a stranger while working in a hospital and meeting patients who needed transplants.

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Before going under the knife, she spoke about her life-changing choice.

Jane speaks to doctors as she donates her kidney (10 News First)

"I saw what it is like for people when they get sick with kidney disease and when they are on dialysis, and how much it can affect their ability to live a kind of regular daily life," she told 10 News First.

It made her want to help.

The chance of something going wrong is very low.  However, her surgeon Bulang He admits:

Like any surgery - certainly there is the risk of complications. Jane understands the potential risks.

But it didn't stop Jane.

She had to undergo counselling and medical checks for almost a year to make sure she was ready for the procedure.

As the surgery got underway, her dad Ian sat in a nearby waiting room.

Jane's surgeons work during her kidney transplant (10 News First)

He was clearly proud of his daughter's altruistic nature, and though a little nervous, supported her act of kindness.

"I would never do it but it is something that is very important for Jane," he said.

"(She had) no second thoughts whatsoever - once she'd made that decision lots of her friends and everybody said why on earth are you doing this. Something like this it is really something special."

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Each year in Australia, three out of 10 organ donations are from live donors just like Jane. A living organ transplant is more likely to be successful for longer for a recipient, but there is often a wait of up to four years for a kidney.

It took more than four hours to remove Jane's organ, before it was packed off and sent to the next operation -- continuing the lifesaving chain of donors.

Donation 'chains' are used because, even though there may be a willing donor and a needy recipient, those two people may not be the right match. So a 'chain' of suitable donors and recipients are lined up, so the organs can be shuffled around until each person gets the right one for them.

Photo: Getty Images

We caught up with Jane as she came out of surgery -- a little groggy but upbeat, and now with only one kidney.

"It's really cool to think there are other people going through this at the same time too," she said.

"It's the kind of thing I'm going to be able to be curious about forever - and kind of imagine in my head like what is my kidney doing now?"

Always wondering and always knowing that her generous gift has changed a life.