Faye’s gift of life is a family affair

Barry and Rose Hawkins, with daughter Faye. The family is set for Faye’s second kidney transplant. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK
Barry and Rose Hawkins, with daughter Faye. The family is set for Faye’s second kidney transplant. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK

FAYE Hawkins will go into a Melbourne hospital tomorrow to get ready for a new kidney.

Transplant stories abound these days, but for her Wodonga family this remarkable feat of medicine is quite unique.

When she is wheeled into a theatre on Tuesday, it will be soon after her mum Rose’s own surgery.

That in itself is not unusual.

What’s different is Mrs Hawkins is giving up a kidney because one donated by Faye’s dad, Barry, two decades ago is running out of puff.

Mrs Hawkins said giving a kidney to her daughter was an easy decision to make.

“You do anything for your kids,” she said.

Faye, 26, was given a big farewell by her fellow Aware Industries workers yesterday.

The kidney she got as a four-year-old from her dad back in October 1991 is barely working.

“But Faye’s still quite healthy now, so it’s good to do it now while she’s like that rather than letting it go further and have it harder to recover,” Mrs Hawkins said.

Without surgery, Faye was close to needing kidney dialysis.

“But I said to the specialist down there that if I could donate a kidney I will, though I wasn’t the right blood group.”

That was why Mr Hawkins was the donor 23 years ago — he shared Faye’s “O” blood group, his wife didn’t.

“But they can do it these days,” Mrs Hawkins said.

Mrs Hawkins said Faye had been able do “whatever she wants” since her first transplant.

“While you’re on dialysis you’re restricted on your fluid and certain foods, depending on what sort of diet you’re on,” she said.

“People have different diets — she was on a low salt and protein diet and couldn’t eat a lot of things.

“When she first had the transplant we had to be careful, like no contact sport or anything like that.”

Mrs Hawkins said the kidney had been slowly deteriorating for about two years and now had only 10 per cent function.

The surgery will keep Mrs Hawkins in hospital for two to four days, but for Faye it’s a far longer haul.

It is unlikely she will leave her hospital ward for at least a month, though if things go well she might be able to go out during the day at times and then return at night.

Faye’s admission tomorrow will allow doctors to fit her with a permacath.

This is a special intravenous line into a blood vessel in her neck, or just under the collarbone, to be used for short-term dialysis treatment.

“On Monday she’ll be doing a plasma exchange, which is getting rid of her antibodies,” she said.

“I’m not stressed and I’m not worried, but Tuesday morning might be different.”

The family hopes their experience will get people to think about organ donation and ensuring their wishes are met.

“A lot of people don’t because they don’t reckon it will happen to them.

“They just need to tick the box.”