A Metropolitan Police officer has given the ultimate gift to his sister – just in time for Christmas. 

Tristan Hunter, 32, donated one of his kidneys to his 38-year-old sister Amy Hennessey, a primary school teacher from Enfield, whose own kidneys were damaged as a baby.

Following the successful procedure at the Royal Free Hospital last month, the siblings can now enjoy a healthy and happy Christmas at their parents’ home in Coventry.

The brother and sister have agreed to have the nine-hour double operation, carried out by surgeons Colin Forman and Bimbi Fernando, documented in real time today (December 20) via the Twitter account of the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust. Throughout the day the trust will be tweeting footage and photos from inside the operating theatre. 

Amy said she was incredibly grateful to Tristan for donating his kidney to her. “I am completely overwhelmed by what Tristan has done,” she said. “It’s amazing – I am going to have to get him something really special for Christmas in return!”

Amy suffered reflux as a baby, which badly damaged her kidneys. Over the years her kidney function has deteriorated and when she was pregnant she suffered renal failure and had to have her twin boys – who are now 10 years old – delivered at 29 weeks. Although her kidneys recovered slightly, their function continued to decline and without a transplant she would soon have needed dialysis.

Different members of the family were tested to find out if their tissue types matched with Amy’s – the better the match the more likely the transplant will succeed. Luckily, the results revealed that Tristan was a 100% match.

Following her operation Amy said: “I feel amazing – I can’t remember when I felt this well. I’ve got more energy, I just feel so much healthier.”

Tristan, from Swanley in Kent, said it wasn’t a difficult decision to donate his kidney to Amy. He said: “I knew that I wanted to do it, but I did start to feel nervous the closer we got to the operation – it started to hit home what we were going through.

“But the whole operation wasn’t as bad as we thought it was going to be. I thought it was going to be really painful, but it wasn’t too bad and the doctors and all the staff were amazing.”

Tristan said he wanted to have the operation before his wife gives birth to their first child, which is due in March. “We wanted it to be done before the birth so I am fully recovered," he said. "It’s all gone as well as could be expected so the whole family is really pleased. We can all enjoy a great Christmas together.”

Neal Banga, the service line lead for kidney transplant surgery, said: “It’s great that Tristan has generously donated his kidney to Amy and that they are both now recovering well. We are really proud of the kidney transplant service here at the Royal Free Hospital, where we carry out around 120 transplants a year.

“I’m delighted Amy and Tristan have allowed us to follow their operations on Twitter and, in the process, publicise organ donation. In this instance Tristan was able to donate his kidney to Amy but not all patients have this option available to them, so I would like to encourage everyone to join the organ donor register.”

You can follow the operation today in real-time on Twitter: @royalfreeNHS


Image: Tristan and Amy after their operations

Notes to editors

About the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

The Royal Free began as a pioneering organisation and continues to play a leading role in the care of patients. Our mission is to provide world class expertise and local care. In the 21st century, the Royal Free London continues to lead improvements in healthcare.

The Royal Free London attracts patients from across the country and beyond to its specialist services in liver and kidney transplantation, haemophilia, renal care, HIV, infectious diseases, plastic surgery, immunology, Parkinson's disease, vascular surgery, cardiology, amyloidosis and scleroderma and we are a member of the academic health science partnership UCLPartners.

In July 2014 Barnet Hospital and Chase Farm Hospital became part of the Royal Free London. Read 'A bigger trust, a better future'.