Where to start? I could talk for hours about John Paul's story. He’s been through more in his 8 years than I have in my lifetime.
John Paul was born with chronic kidney failure. At four years old, I gave him one of my kidneys. At six, his mum Maryanne passed away. At the start of this year, he had to learn to walk, talk and eat again after spending three months in intensive care.
Despite all of this he's a very positive wee boy. Together we try to see the good in everything. Most people would have crumbled, but he's so resilient. It's partly down to his condition - he's dealt with so much.
When John Paul was still in the womb doctors told us that he had chronic kidney failure. It’s a life-long, life limiting disease that cannot be cured, and our long hospital journey began when he had an operation on the day he was born.
For the first four years of his life, the Renal Team tried to treat John Paul’s kidneys with medication. For 18 months, his life was almost literally put on hold while he received dialysis. He missed out on so many key life moments during that time. He couldn’t stay overnight with his grandparents, or do any of the things that a normal four year-old should be able to do.
Dialysis is also a very harsh and damaging treatment. An 18 year-old treated on dialysis can only expect to live for around ten years. The best possible treatment for children with kidney failure is a kidney transplant, which became the next step on our journey.
From the day he was born I asked if I could give John Paul one of my own kidneys. I was so naïve. I didn't know anything about the process. You'd do anything for your kids, although you never imagine you'll actually have to give them an organ.
The build-up to the transplant took seven months of intense preparation. There was no guarantee that the transplant would work, and always the chance that his body might reject my kidney. It was a worrying time, but there was never any doubt that we would give it a try.
I didn't see John Paul for a few days after the transplant while we both recovered. I was still hobbling around the ward in pain, holding onto the wall, when he came running up to me – still attached to his drip - and jumped right on top of me! At four years old he looked healthy for the first time in his life. I couldn't believe it.
The transplant didn't just change his life; John Paul's transplant gave him a life. Kidney failure is so cruel though, because even after a transplant, you still have the disease.
John Paul’s life is still ruled by medication, hospital visits and health worries. When he was in primary three he caught the flu, which hit him hard. Last December he was admitted to intensive care, where he was placed in an induced coma. He fought through, but spent the first three months of this year in hospital, during which time he had to learn to eat, walk and talk again.
John Paul has always saved his pocket money in a tin for the charity, so that Diane the Transplant Co-ordinator can buy the things she needs to help more boys and girls.
I can’t explain just how close we are to our ward family and the Renal Team. They see their patients more than they see their own families. Bernie the nurse calls all of her patients her ‘weans’.
When I needed them, they were there. They reached out and helped me during a very difficult time. They need help too though, which is why I hope you’ll support Kidney Kids Scotland.
We've seen first-hand the difference your donations make to children in the hospital. You hear people say 'every penny counts' - we've spent so long in hospital that I can assure you it really does. John Paul sees the best in everything. One day he will need another kidney, but right now he’s a wee bundle of joy.