A woman who suffered the trauma of two failed kidney transplants following hospital errors is questioning NHS guidelines on organ transplants.
Despite her two closest friends both offering to give her a kidney, Janice Richardson says consultants at St James's University Hospital in Leeds instead transplanted a cadaver kidney from a 53-year-old smoker destined to fail without discussing the risks with her.
The kidney, which came from a man who smoked 20 cigarettes day and died from a heart attack, also only had three viable arteries instead of four, facts Mrs Richardson said she was never told, but was instead made to feel lucky for receiving it.
Following the transplant in October 2013, the kidney never functioned at more than 15 per cent and she remained on dialysis. Within eight weeks, an MRI scan revealed there was a stone in it and a narrowing artery. It was eventually removed less than a year later, leaving Mrs Richardson now unlikely to receive another transplant and needing dialysis three times a week.
"My two best friends flew in from South Africa and Australia to be tested and were told they were a tissue match for me. Before I could make the decision which donor to go with, the hospital told me they had an excellent match and I was rushed into surgery.
No-one ever discussed the state of the organ with me. When I became seriously ill and it became clear it wasn't functioning, a doctor commented it was a shame I'd received such a poor quality kidney, implying something was known about it before the operation.
"I have repeatedly asked the hospital what their criteria are for deciding whether a kidney is viable but rather than give me clear answers, they recite the numbers of transplants they perform but offer no data on how they quantify what constitutes a successful transplant – i.e. whether someone has to survive a week or a year. I got the distinct impression it was all a numbers game, with little thought of the outcome."
Mrs Richardson has had trouble with her kidneys since she was 14, likely following an infection as a 3-year-old which prevented her right kidney from growing.
After falling critically ill with septicaemia that shut down her organs and put her into a coma, Mrs Richardson received her first kidney in November 2011, donated by her sister. Despite initial signs that she was responding well, blood tests incorrectly filed under her maiden name meant that dangerously high creatinine levels were missed by the hospital and she contracted BK virus, which destroyed the kidney and it was removed.
The Leeds Hospital Trust that runs St James's admitted it had breached duty in Janice's care over the mistakes that jeopardised her first kidney but denied it had not informed her of the condition of the second kidney. During the claim, Mrs Richardson life expectancy was estimated at less than five years.
Mrs Richardson's lawyer pursued the medical negligence claim saying that she has suffered seven years of hell, endured terrible pain and spent months in hospital due to a catalogue of mistakes and poor care from the hospital seriously endangering her life.
"Janice is now effectively far worse off than she was in the beginning. She is no longer on the transplant list and will have to endure dialysis for the rest of her life."
Mrs Richardson says that she is heartbroken that the generosity beyond belief of her sister and her friends and all care from her husband has mounted to nothing.
"Words cannot express my gratitude and love for all that they have done for me. I feel completely let down by Leeds Hospital Trust."
Despite all she has endured, Janice is determined to remain optimistic. She founded a charity to help others in a similar situation. Bloomin Yorkshire raises funds and awareness for organ donation and kidney research. The charity is planning to exhibit a garden at RHS Chelsea next year using the 'Rose of Hope'.