One of the longest surviving kidney transplant patients in the world.
A pensioner who was told he wouldn’t make it past his 21st birthday is still alive 50 years after his kidney transplant.
Villy Nielsen, 72, underwent surgery in September 1969 after receiving the gift of life from his sister, Karen, 69. He is now one of the longest surviving kidney transplant patients in the world. A freak accident when Villy was four and living in Denmark, led doctors to discover his kidneys were failing. Villy said: ‘My mother was doing the weekly washing, long before washing machines were in general use, and as she picked up a bucket of boiling water from the cauldron I ran towards her, tipping boiling water out of the bucket and scalding my head. ‘My mother immediately picked me up and put me on the back of her bike and rode about half a mile to the nearest hospital.
‘We didn’t have a car, so this was the only way to go. It was probably quicker than calling for an ambulance. ‘At the hospital they took a urine sample and discovered my kidneys were slowly shrinking. My parents were told that my life expectancy was only 21.’ Villy’s health continued to deteriorate and in 1969, aged 21, he was told his only option was to have an immediate transplant. Doctors said he only had a 32 per cent chance of surviving. Villy said: ‘Luckily I come from a large family, two sisters and four brothers. So the chance that one of my siblings could help me was increased. ‘They were all tested but it was my sister, Karin, who was the ideal match. She was only 19-years-old at the time and bravely agreed to donate one of her kidneys to me. ‘After a seven-hour operation I felt that my life had really begun.