Blokes, usually after a few pints, have on occasion been known to throw a weary arm around a friend and declare: “I’d do anything for you, mate.”
A vow not to be taken in the literal sense, because “anything” probably means lending said pal £20 to stand a round, or putting him up for the night when “the missus” kicks him out.
Barry Ross, of Oak Lane, Minster, needed a lot more than a little favour – he needed a new kidney to keep him alive.
None of his family were a match and time was running out.
But in Marc Faulkner , Barry discovered he had a friend “indeed”.
“I bawled my eyes out. It was a big shock, but excitement overcame it. That call was one of the best moments of my life” - Barry
The 57-year-old, of Main Road, Queenborough, donated the kidney which his work colleague and long-time pal had been waiting nearly four agonising years for.
“It’s taken 14 weeks out of my life, but it means nothing compared to saving my friend’s life,” Marc said.
Barry, 61, was diagnosed with nephritic syndrome in 2011.
It’s triggered by high blood pressure or diabetes and can ultimately lead to kidney failure.
Two years after being diagnosed, the dad-of-three gained six stone. The weight was due to water retention, and for three-and-a-half-years he spent 12 hours a week rigged up to a dialysis machine.
“If a donor wasn’t found, the dialysis would’ve carried on until kidney disease killed me,” Barry said.
Barry’s wife Brenda, his two daughters and one of his granddaughters were tested as potential donors without success.
Salvation appeared to be at hand when his son-in-law Tony’s organ was deemed suitable.
Marc, a supervisor at Bonds in New Road, Sheerness, was in earshot when his work colleague learnt another life-saving opportunity had vanished. He said: “Brenda had rung, she was upset and I could see Barry was upset, too.
“I said ‘what’s up mate?’
“He said, ‘Tony can’t do it, he’s got kidney stones’.
“I didn’t say anything more at that stage, but that night, I went round to my partner Rachel’s home and told her, ‘I can’t have my poor mate going through this – I’m going to offer to donate’.
The same evening, Marc broke the news to Barry, an electrical worker and former pub landlord, not given to outward displays of emotion.
“He told me what a fantastic person I was and he was proud to call me dad. I’ve kept that text” - Marc
“I bawled my eyes out,” Barry said. “It was a big shock, but excitement overcame it. That call was one of the best moments of my life.”
The pair, whose friendship was forged more than 40 years ago as neighbours and a shared love of fishing, spent weeks undergoing tests at Kent and Canterbury Hospital (KACH) before a date was set for a transplant.
It took place on May 14 at Guy’s Hospital in London.
Marc, a keen runner and cyclist, wasn’t a perfect match, he and Barry are different blood groups, but the donated organ was a beaut.
“The surgeon said I couldn’t have wished for a better kidney,” Barry said.
Despite doctors telling dad-of-three Marc there was a rare chance the transplant could leave him needing future dialysis, any concerns he had, he reserved for family.
He said: “My son was really aggressive towards what I was doing, which at first I couldn’t understand. But in a text after the operation he explained he was angry because he was scared.
“He told me what a fantastic person I was and he was proud to call me dad. I’ve kept that text.”
Barry said post-transplant, it’s been a “hard road” for them both.
Marc’s undergone a second operation after it was feared a clot had formed beneath a wound, while Barry’s new kidney suffered an infection.
It’s early days, but the new kidney’s already working its magic and heightened the pair’s friendship to an almost spiritual level.
“In terms of physicality, I haven’t felt this good in 15 years,” Barry said
“I’ve got to be careful about what I do, but my energy levels have shot up.
“Marc knows how I feel,” he added.
“I can’t explain the bond, but it’s made us very emotional around each other.
“I can talk to Marc no problem at all, but when we meet up and shake hands for some unknown reason I fill-up nearly every time.”
It’ll be a good few months before Barry returns to work.
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