More transplantation needed here

Rawle Brancker and Dr. Velma Scantlebury-White
Rawle Brancker and Dr. Velma Scantlebury-White

Renowned cricketer and local businessman Rawle Brancker threw his support behind kidney donation last night, as he recalled his own diagnosis four years ago that led him to seek a transplant overseas.

Brancker, introducing US-based Associate Director of the Kidney Transplant Programme of the Christiana Care Health System in Delaware, Velma Scantlebury-White, reiterated his view that more transplantation was needed here.

Scantlebury-White had performed his surgery at the clinic after he could not have it done in Barbados, due to the unavailability of the single specialist who could perform the operation.

“I would just like to say that if there is anyone in this room who has a kidney problem and one of the options to you is transplantation, don’t hesitate, do it. It is a much better quality life, you get back to doing the things [you used to do]. With dialysis you have to take three days out of every week, three hours every day and you can’t work then, can you?” he told an audience at The Sylma Reeves Memorial Lecture last night at the Henry Frasier Lecture Theatre of the university.

The lecture, addressed by Scantlebury-White and Consultant and Renal Transplant Surgeon at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Dr. Margaret O’Shea was titled Diabetes and Kidney Disease – Transplantation as an Option.

Brancker walked the audience through his own diagnosis four years ago, when doctors told him they had found some “spillage” of protein in his urine and sent him for further tests with nephrologist, Dr. Lisa Belle.

He said he was told that he had serious kidney problems, “at that point without any knowledge, without any symptoms, I had lost 75 per cent of the use of my two kidneys.

“She said now you have three options. I said what are the three and what is the best of them. She said well, you can have a transplant, two, you can go on dialysis, or three, you can just die. I said, well let’s look at option one,” he said, to some laughter from the audience.

He said friend, Tony Best offered to put him in touch with Scantlebury-White, an option he accepted after the surgeon in Barbados was on leave at the time. Friend Roxanne Gibbs then offered to donate one of her kidneys to him, and they went to the Delaware-based clinic for the necessary tests and procedures.

“A transplant depends on a donor. You’ve got to have a kidney that agrees with your system otherwise it is going to be rejected and there is no point,” he explained, adding that family and friends were also options he had explored at the time.

“I’m still amazed, over the weekend we were talking about it, that neither of us experienced any pain, before, during or after the surgery. It’s the most amazing thing. We have satisfied our minds that it was just another fantastic miracle for which we remain eternally grateful to Dr. Scantlebury, her team, Dr. Belle and her team and I am still benefitting from the care of both of them.

“I would just like to publicly acknowledge Dr. Belle and Dr. Scantlebury who have both teamed to keep us alive and make us extremely well. Roxanne is doing well, she’s just had a medical and she’s fine. I am doing fantastically well… I am feeling better than I did 15 years ago,” he said to more laughter.

“What I found in comparing the periods prior to surgery and after – before surgery I used to feel extremely tired on afternoons around 3-4, I had to get home and I would sleep until about 8 o’clock at night. I would get up and then go back to sleep again. After surgery, there was no need for it. I just did not have that feeling. I got back to the gym… and I keep feeling well,” he said, as Scantlebury-White joined him at the microphone. (LB)

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