Published: 10:01, 14 August 2019
| Updated: 10:02, 14 August 2019
A brother says he owes his life to his heroic sister after she donated a kidney to him.
Seriously-ill Matthew Garlinge of Mill Road, Deal, grew weaker by the day as his only kidney began to fail, causing pain, exhaustion and chronic itching all over his body.
Family and friends stepped forward for tests to see if they could donate a kidney to the former painter and decorator, who had one kidney removed at the age of seven after suffering from a condition called reflux, when urine flows backwards to the ureters and kidneys.
His sister Sarah Thompson was found to be the perfect match as a donor and the siblings were admitted to Guys Hospital for the operation in January.
Mum-of-three Sarah, 41, who lives in St Richards Road, said: "I'd never had an operation in my life and I was nervous about it but I had set my mind to have it as I had to save Matthew's life."
Her children, 18,14, and 11 years-old supported her decision. "They knew the operation was needed to save their uncle although they were upset when they saw me immediately afterwards." she revealed.
It was a nerve-racking time for the siblings' mum Mary, 69, who faced a 15-hour wait before her only two children were both out of theatre as surgeons transplanted Sarah's kidney into Matthew.
Matthew, 47, said: "As soon as I woke up after theatre I felt like a different person straight away.
"The first day after the operation I was in a wheelchair and by the second day I was walking around."
Matthew and Sarah were in an L-shaped ward with men and women segregated at opposite ends and the siblings built up strength by walking to each others' beds.
Sarah joked: "We had a bet as to who would walk to each other first and unfortunately Matthew won."
Matthew said: "I've always been close to my sister but the operation has made us closer. She's my heroine and has given me a new lease of life."
He now has renewed energy to play with his little daughter, five-year-old Kyanna and support wife Carolyn.
Sarah, who works at family firm Osborne Plumbers in Park Avenue, said the siblings wanted to speak out about the operation to highlight the importance of organ donation.
Staff at Kent and Canterbury Hospital's renal unit and those at Guy's have been praised by the pair for their dedication and expertise.
Mum Mary says she is so proud of her children. "Matthew and Sarah are wonderful people and my son would not have a life without his sister."