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Student who had life ‘transformed’ by kidney transplant urges others to sign up –

By John Shammas 22 Jan 2014 15:17

A student who had her life transformed five years ago after having a kidney transplant is urging others to register for organ donation.

Nehal Shah, 27, from Stanmore discovered through routine medical check-up in 1999 that she had chronic kidney failure and was told by doctors that she would eventually need a transplant.

From 2003, Ms Shah spent three days a week having dialysis sessions at Northwick Park Hospital in Watford Road, Harrow – which takes blood out of the body to clean it before it re-enters the system – while she waited for a suitable kidney.

“It was such a tough time for me and my family,” Ms Shah said. “Dialysis took over my life, and it was physically very draining.”

This went on for six years, taking a detrimental toll on her life and preventing her from sitting her GCSE examinations.

She said: “It was just too exhausting for me, and it made me really struggle. After all that time on the waiting list, I had lost all hope. You never think today is going to be the day that you get the call.”

The day did come, however, leaving Ms Shah in shock, and on January 29 2009 she had her kidney transplant using an anonymously donated organ.

“I can’t even remember the emotion,” she said. “It has changed my life.”

People from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups like Ms Shah have to wait up to twice as long for a transplant due to a shortage of organ donors from their communities, leaving their life in


Five years on, Ms Shah is now studying psychology and counselling at Stanmore College, and is continuing to campaign to raise awareness of the need for kidney donors.

More than 6,000 people – approximately 90 per cent of the total organ waiting list – are waiting for a kidney, but less than 3,000 transplants are carried out each year.

She said: “It is really important that people sign up for donations, and the first step is for people to sign up themselves, and then talk to their family and others about it.”

n To find out more on how to register to be an organ donor and transform the life of someone like Nehal, visit

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