By Chris Jaffray
This doting dad secretly became his dying son’s kidney donor behind his back – and now both are feeling good as new.
Lewis Morlen, 26, suffered from kidney problems from the age of 11 and was diagnosed with kidney disease IgA nephropathy at 17, but had always been able to cope – working 12 hour shifts as a chef and playing rugby.
But after moving from his hometown of Brighton to Worthing, Sussex, last year things took a dramatic turn for the worse when his kidney function collapsed, leaving him feeling like he had ‘already died and was carrying his body around with him’.
Lewis has now been ‘reborn’ after beloved dad Scott, 56, sneakily registered to be his donor despite Lewis insisting he would never accept a family donation – only telling him less than one month before the op went ahead this May.
And after a gruelling six hours of surgery between them, the battle-scarred pair are both back to full health with Lewis able to live a normal life and Scott suffering no ill effects of his generous donation.
Lewis said: “When dad told me he was giving me his kidney, I was absolutely overwhelmed.
“Initially he didn’t want to tell me because he didn’t want to get my hopes up, he wanted me to focus on my health.
“He hadn’t told anyone because he didn’t want me to find out from them so when I took it all in that night I didn’t know who to call.
“Before the donation, I had been on a clear downward path with no improvement – I was on borrowed time and my kidney function was going down and down.
“It felt like I had already died and was just dragging my body around.
“Now it is almost like I’ve been reborn – I never thought I would know how it felt to be this healthy.
“I am incredibly grateful for what dad has done, when I have children I would do anything I can for them like he has done.
“He has been absolutely selfless, and has saved my life.”
Lewis was first diagnosed with Henoch-Schonlein purpura – a disease involving inflammation of small blood vessels – aged 11, only to be diagnosed with IgA nephropathy several years later.
But despite having to take medication to control his blood pressure he lived a full live, taking his job as a chef seriously and working 12 hours a day and playing rugby.
His health deteriorated in September last year after he registered with a new GP in Worthing and was sent for some routine blood tests.
These discovered Lewis’ kidney function had collapsed and his potassium, creatinine and urea levels were through the roof and he was rushed to A&E.
With a renal function of just nine per cent, Lewis suddenly faced hours a day on dialysis with no chance of improvement.
Unable to sit back any longer, Scott, who works with children in autism in residential care, decided he couldn’t do nothing so secretly undertook tests to find out if he was a suitable donor.
His son had said that he’d never accept a donation, and Scott didn’t want to build his hopes prematurely, so he went through the more than 15 nerve-wracking rounds of tests to check he would be suitable to donate the kidney behind his back.
And at the end of March this year, as his son entered a new form of dialysis, Scott found out he’d been approved as a donor so drove to Worthing to tell him in an emotional reveal.
Th pair had the surgery in May, and at the end of it Scott refused to go to sleep as he was waiting to see if his son’s part of the operation had gone well, while Lewis demanded to be transported to see his dad as soon as he woke up.
Scott said he was over the moon the transplant had been a success after the agony of waiting to find out if he would be approved.
The dad-of-five, from Brighton, said: “Lewis insisted he would never take a donation from a live donor so I did it all behind his back.
“I had to have a full health MOT and every time they did tests I thought there would be something wrong.
“That’s why I couldn’t tell him – I didn’t want to give him false hope.
“When I told him he was really low, he cried like a five-year-old, it was like I had my little boy back.”
Since the op, Lewis is feeling a level of energy he didn’t know was possible and is planning to go back to work on a chef while Scott is also on the mend and has even started running again.
Lewis said: “Before, for the last five to six years I would sleep for 12 hours and then want to go back to sleep.
“I worked very hard as a chef, so I just thought that was how it was.
“Now I have a new kidney, I can work for hours and be fine – I’ve never felt like that before.”
Scott added: “It is eight weeks on and I feel great, there are still some aches and pains but it has been a rollercoaster ride.
“I would give my life for my son.
“I told him, I have done what I want to do, I don’t want to be burying my children and that is what would have happened.”