A 33-year-old nurse has returned to work after successfully recovering from a life-saving kidney transplant that came on her birthday.

Leann Defriend, from Hornchurch, had hereditary kidney disease but waited three years for a kidney donor.

She returned to work last Monday after a transplant operation on her 33rd birthday on September 29, 2021

The qualified nutritionist said: “All I know about my donor is he was a 39-year-old male. I’m massively grateful for the gift he’s given me and I’m determined to do everything I can to make it last.

“If his family hadn’t said yes to organ donation I would still be on the transplant list.”

Leann said she is fortunate compared to those like her friend’s dad, who was told on six occasions the donor was not the right match.

She added: “I’ve been told this too so I know how disappointing it is.”

But she said 12 days after one such disappointment, the phone rang in the early hours of her birthday.

Nurse Leann Defriend has a new lease of life after a kidney transplant

Nurse Leann Defriend has a new lease of life after a kidney transplant

She said: "I had no clue the hospital would be calling with news of another donor, but I didn't want to get my hopes up so my first thought was 'which idiot's calling me at this hour?’”

Leann was ushered through tests and prepared for surgery before given thumbs up that the organ was a match.

After three and a half hours in surgery, she spent six days in hospital before returning home to recover.

She said the transplant has given her a new lease of life, especially after three years on dialysis waiting for a donor.

She added: "Being on dialysis was a full time job on top of my full time job. It means you can’t have children so I stopped dating and planning my future because I didn't want to burden anyone.

“And now I feel excited about the future, passionate about nursing and can’t wait to get back to work.”

She said her experience of receiving a donor has propelled her to encourage more people to be open with loved ones about organ donation.

She said: “I’ve seen people die waiting for a transplant, also during the pandemic.

“That’s why it’s really important to have those conversations. For some cultures, the wait can be even longer because organ donation can be a bit of a taboo. So if you want to donate your organs, please ensure your next of kin knows this.”