Kidney donor gives daughter new lease of life

By Jonathan Kalmus, January 6, 2011

A Chasidic mother-of-five has her mother to thank for a kidney transplant which has transformed her life.

Yehudis Baron, 42, from Broughton Park suffers from autoimmune condition Lupus. She spent much of her teenage life in hospital and her first kidney transplant was in 1993, when she was 25. But a year ago, the new kidney began to fail and the search began for another matching donor.

Mrs Baron's American-born mother, Henye Meyer, 66, offered to donate her kidney after discovering she was the perfect match - and also to prevent any of her other eight children from having to volunteer.

"I was scared," Mrs Meyer admitted. "I wanted to say the confession people say before they die. I told my family to divvy up the stuff fairly if I did. The consultant said to me: 'We haven't lost one yet.' I told him: 'You aren't going to start with me either.'"

She had to go through a barrage of psychological and medical screenings before being given the go-ahead. "The doctors kept asking you me: 'You want to give a kidney?' For me it was black-and-white facts. I had to do this for her. They seemed to be happy with that."

For me it was black-and-white facts. I had to do it

The day before the operation, Mrs Baron told her: 'Mummy I can't do this to you.' Now I can't believe she did this." Adding to her apprehension had been the thought that "my mother is giving me this kidney. What if it doesn't work? All that agony for nothing.

"It's been a year when I've felt down at times, thinking 'am I ever going to get out of this'? A year of exhaustion and not doing things I want to do." She praised Manchester's FJS welfare charity for being "so good to us. They helped my husband get a carer's respite grant to help him cope."

On Saturday night, Mrs Baron was allowed home after three weeks in Manchester Royal Infirmary. She said she was experiencing a state of health she had not known since childhood.

"I'm looking forward to being much more hands-on with my children. While I was very unwell over the past year they always knew I was available, but I was unable to run the house as much or work. But now my kids run up the stairs after school screaming 'Mummy'. They are so pleased to have me home."

Hospital staff had been "amazing, doing their best under appalling NHS cuts. There was a shortage of blankets and sheets. They had to leave me in a soaking bed when I had fluid leaking from me."

She also claimed that kosher meals turned up cold despite her needing to be careful what she ate as a transplant patient and diabetic. At one point, she burst into tears when her home-made Shabbat meal was thrown out by staff because it was not properly labelled. But she was comforted by the prayers of a Jamaican Christian woman on her ward.

"There were a lot of hallelujahs and 'praise the Lord'. People on the ward with faith were able to look at their situation with more perspective. Judaism taught me God sometimes tests us to make us better people, but he still loves us. The Jamaican lady appreciated that too."

Mrs Baron hopes to return to work as a classroom assistant in a local strictly Orthodox primary school, which has kept her job open for a year. She further plans to restart her respite home care service for disabled children, which she offers for free.

For now, she will satisfy her "desire to always give" by running her other charity - a food service for needy families which collects and distributes bread and cakes donated by local kosher bakeries.

Last updated: 11:31am, January 7 2011