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23rd September 2022

Susan gives hope in more ways than one

HOWDEN 2   L to R   James, John,Sue, David and Jono

By becoming a regular giver to Kidney, Transplant & Diabetes Research Australia, Susan Howden hopes the ongoing research will help others.

It’s been 21 years since Susan became a kidney donor for her son Jono, who was then 30 years old.

He had been diagnosed with end stage renal failure in both kidneys.
Nine years earlier Jono was living in Alice Springs and a blood test revealed that he had immunoglobulin (IgA – also known as Berger’s Disease).
IgA is a kidney disease that occurs when an antibody (immunoglobulin) builds up in the kidney causing inflammation and over time can hinder the kidney’s ability to filter waste from the body.

The tests revealed end renal failure within a predicted seven years, but Susan said that prognosis was put to one side by her son.
It wasn’t until years later when Jono and his family moved to Mount Gambier that a routine medical test for a truck driving job found the renal failure had progressed.

Jono then had to consider the next step – a kidney transplant. He called his mum to ”reluctantly” ask for one of her kidneys, with prior testing discovering that Susan was a suitable donor.

Renown South Australian renal surgeon A/Prof Mohan Rao performed keyhole or (Laparoscopic) surgery to harvest Susan’s kidney in 2001.
At the time the laparoscopic procedure was relatively new and it had attracted some criticism.
“The team included Dr Rao, A/Prof Tim Matthew, renal nurse Toni East and Dr Toby Coates,’’ Susan said.
“We are just so thankful for the team that operated on him.’’

Susan said Jono is now doing well, taking his medication and fully aware of what a gift of life he has been given.
“When you give something as precious as an organ, it is up to them to look after it,” she said.
“It is pretty special.’’

After his kidney transplant Jono, who now lives in Queensland, became a KTDRA regular giver and now his mum has followed suit by also making monthly donations.

As a mum of three boys with six grandsons, Susan said she would like to encourage others to consider regular giving so that dedicated researchers can continue their work to help others in the future.
“It’s good to have donors who can make a monthly donation,’’ she said.
“If the researchers are planning to do some type of research then they have a budget to be able to plan.
“With sons and grandsons, you don’t want this to happen again,’’ she said