Mother launches desperate search for a living kidney donor

Sharon Caplan dreams of living long enough to meet her grandchildren


Sharon Caplan, who has launched a desperate search for a living kidney donor (Photo: Caplan)

A Jewish mother diagnosed with stage 5 renal failure is pleading to the community for a living kidney donor as she wants to fulfil her dream of seeing her children get married.

At 12 Sharon Caplan became the youngest person in Australia, where she grew up, to be diagnosed with Crohn's disease. Now 52, and living in Borehamwood, the mother-of-two was diagnosed with stage 3 chronic kidney disease “out of the blue” 10 years ago, just before her youngest child’s bat mitzvah. Her condition has since deteriorated to stage 5.

Sharon has two daughters. Jessica, 26, lives at home with her and Sharon’s husband, Daniel. Her youngest daughter, Olivia, 22, is in her final year at university.

After years of suffering with Crohn’s and having had 30 operations since childhood, including a permanent ileostomy, Sharon is not deemed medically strong enough to accept a deceased kidney transplant.

Recalling her symptoms before she was diagnosed with renal failure, she told the JC: “It was different to Crohn's symptoms. I was breathless and I kept getting urine infections, which weren't very nice.”

Recent tests have shown that both of Sharon’s kidneys are severely damaged and are not working as they should. In addition, she believes her current Crohn's treatment has stopped working and is now waiting to see a specialist.

Sharon says her Crohn's is “horrendous” at the moment, and she is also suffering from other related conditions, including inflammatory arthritis and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which affects the connective tissue.

She said: “Combining that with trying to live a normal life, trying to look after your family and trying to be brave is tough. To be honest, I've been in denial these last few years because you just carry on, but I haven't been able to work since I got engaged nearly 29 years ago. I look after my family and try and get up every day and that’s it.”

Sharon said that her symptoms had now got a lot worse. “I wake up every morning with swollen hands and legs due to fluid retention. This and the constant urine infections are difficult as both are so painful, as well as suffering with Crohn’s disease. I had blood tests last Monday, and the results were really bad.”

Because of her Crohn's, Sharon is not well enough to endure the dialysis she would need while waiting for a transplant from a deceased donor. In addition, a kidney from a living donor would last longer and the rejection rate is also much lower than for a kidney from a deceased donor. 

In any case, Sharon’s doctor has told her that she needs a new kidney now. 

“My consultant doesn't want me to wait years. He wants to nip it in the bud while I'm still strong enough to find a living donor.”

The next step is to find a match for Sharon, which is more of a challenge because she has had many blood transfusions, which means she has developed antibodies. Unfortunately, her family members are either unable to donate because of health issues — her mother has cancer — or because they are not a match.

“My mother is desperate to donate but she can't. I want to live to see my children get married, and to have and to hold my grandchildren. That is my dream. If someone gave me that gift, my family and I would be forever grateful for their generosity and kindness.”

If you would like to test to become a live kidney donor for Sharon, please email: and quote her consultant’s name, Neil Duncan

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