Published: 10:41, 14 October 2020
| Updated: 14:03, 14 October 2020
Life is full of so much more energy for Jo Lawton a year after receiving a kidney transplant from her friend of 15 years.
And donor Stewart Brown says it is only his scar that gives away the fact he has had the major surgery.
Now, with the added knowledge of what 12 month's post surgery entails, the Deal pals are continuing to spread awareness about organ donations and would encourage anyone to help another if they could.
"I have absolutely no regrets," said Mr Brown.
"I made the decision knowing there could have been complications but if it wasn't for my scar, I wouldn't really know I've had the operation.
"Even the first time I went out for a beer, I was concious I might wake up and feel the effects of only having one kidney, but I didn't.
"The first six to eight weeks of recovery were tough and I still have some healing issues but I drink lots of water and I feel fitter and healthier now than ever before. If anything, it's made me look after myself a bit more.
He continued: "I'm proud that I've been able to help a friend, but the rest was over to Jo and it's nice to see she has a spring back in her step.
"She seems so much happier now that she's not having to go to hospital three to four times a week."
Miss Lawton described Mr Brown's gesture to her on October 9 last year as heroic.
The pair were part of a sharing scheme involving three donors and three recipients in different parts of the country.
It meant that Miss Lawton received the best match possible while Mr Brown's selflessness helped not just one person, but several.
It was the M&S worker's third transplant, following previous operations aged nine and 23, and relieved her of years of pain and suffering, having spent the last two years on dialysis.
She told KentOnline that the results felt "instant" and that she is now only required to attend hospital once every three weeks.
The impact of Covid-19 has played a part in her recovery in that she was forced to shield for four months and unable to work for a further two.
But the time off allowed her to focus on her health and daily exercise such as cycling with Mr Brown.
She said: "It still means the world. If it wasn't for Stewart and the other people in the share scheme, I wouldn't be here.
"They're [doctors] really happy with me at the minute. They think it's a brilliant match and are expecting good things.
"Generally healthwise, I'm good; I can go out, I'm not restricted at work and I enjoy cycling.
"I used to have no energy but I've lost two stone and I feel good."
The past year has also seen the pair share their experiences with others.
They were invited in January to speak to up to 50 donors, recipients and family members at a talk at Kent and Canterbury Hospital.
A second talk in April was sadly cancelled due to the pandemic but they hope to continue with their awareness work.
Mr Brown said: "I'm even more enthusiastic about people putting themselves forward and doing it now."
Miss Lawton added: "It bewilders me that people wouldn't consider it. It's nice to help people."