‘My kidney donor husband saved my life’ says West Hampstead teacher recovering from transplant
- Credit: Valerie Nogue
A West Hampstead mother whose husband saved her life by giving her a kidney after a shock diagnosis has urged others to sign up to the donor register.
Valerie Nougé, who lives in West Hampstead, had the transplant last month after her kidneys failed in September.
The 46-year-old described waking up the next day as “like a switch being turned back on”.
She was diagnosed with vasculitis in 2014 during a routine blood test. Doctors said her kidney function was decreasing, but it still came as a surprise last year when they discovered how badly the organs had failed.
“It was a shock,” she said. “I knew it was decreasing, but I wasn’t expecting it.”
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The discovery meant Valerie had to start a gruelling programme of dialysis straightaway. Because doctors had found out so suddenly, Valerie didn’t even get a chance to see the equipment before the procedure started.
“Usually you get chance to see the kit,” she said, “and you find out you can have it at home or in the centre. On the first day I went in with my daughter, and there were rows and rows of beds. You can see people having the blood taken out and pumped back in as their heartbeat goes.”
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The mum-of-two was then put on the transplant list. Each year, about 250 people in Britain die while waiting for a kidney.
That’s when her husband Ben Geoghagan came to the rescue.
“I felt so grateful,” Valerie told the Ham&High. “When I thought about what he was doing I would get emotional.” But she added: “In the days before the operation I wasn’t scared, because I knew what the life expectancy would be if it worked.”
Ben, 53, said: “Valerie had been ill for some time, so when it became clear I could be a donor I didn’t hesitate. I was in a position to help and wanted to give her – and the rest of our family – a chance at having a normal life.”
She had the surgery on July 11, and woke up hours later with Ben in the next bed. Because of the morphine they were both on, she said, they couldn’t speak – so they waved at each other instead.
Now life is getting back to normal for the couple. “I’m recovering well,” Valerie said. “Ben and I want to thank the Royal Free staff – they were so helpful and supportive. People should also sign up to the organ donor list, including the living donors list. You can help save people’s lives.”