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Thanks for putting your life on the line for me; Deputy Lord Mayor's heartfelt words to his wife on eve of operation.

Byline: By Emma Brady Health Correspondent

Birmingham's Deputy Lord Mayor has spoken of how his wife is putting "her life on the line" by donating one of her kidneys to him in a live transplant.

Coun Mike Sharpe, aged 56, and his wife Thelma will undergo surgery at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Edgbaston, on Saturday.

Coun Sharpe, who was Lord Mayor last year, has been suffering from a condition called nephritis IGA, a progressive inflammatory disease of the kidneys, for the past 16 years. Six weeks before he was inaugurated as Lord Mayor of Birmingham in May 2006, his kidney function fell from 22 per cent to 11 per cent making dialysis, and a transplant, unavoidable.

In order to filter waste products from the blood - the kidneys' role - he has been having four half-hour sessions of dialysis daily since then.

Mrs Sharpe, a social worker, had made her potentially life-saving offer on their 35th wedding anniversary in January last year but a medical problem meant the surgery was put on hold. The couple, who go into hospital tomorrow, yesterday spoke of their hopes and fears for the operation which could change both their lives.

Coun Sharpe (Lab Tyburn) said: "It's a strange feeling, knowing that someone is prepared to give one of their kidneys, what can you say to that? I don't think there's a word in the dictionary that truly expresses my thanks to Thelma. It's very personal - how do you even approach that question, it's not as simple as saying 'Have you got a spare kidney?'

"I am worried for her because I am the one with the illness and she's so fit and healthy, I'd hate for anything to happen to her, because she's putting her life on the line for me.

"There is this fear around any operation so of course I'm frightened of what's going to happen for both of us, but this is something that has to happen."

He added: "God willing I've got all my life in front of me and this transplant will mean a major life change.

It's hard to imagine life without dialysis, but I'm looking forward to it." Mrs Sharpe, aged 53, was not the only member of the family willing to be a living donor. One of their sons, 33-year-old Neil, also underwent a host of tests to see if he would be suitable.

She said: "They give you a full MoT, lots of blood tests, an MRI scan, kidney function tests and all sorts, particularly for me as I wasn't a blood relation so it wasn't a case of matching blood groups."

"I was the same blood group as Mike and Neil's blood group - O - which is universal, but I had told him if we were both considered matches then I would be the donor.

"I didn't have to think about whether or not I was going to be a donor, I just knew I had to do it."

The operation was originally planned for April 12 last year, to give the couple time to recuperate in time for Coun Sharpe's mayoral year, but had to be postponed on health grounds.

Mrs Sharpe added: "I am more worried about him than myself because I am healthy whereas Mike has not always enjoyed good health, but this will make a major difference, we'll be able to do things together.

"We've discussed the possible problems like infection, survival rates and other complications but we're focusing on the positives like how Mike will feel afterwards, how he will get his life back."

The transplant will be performed by Andrew Ready, consultant renal transplant surgeon at the QE, who explained that live donors do not have to be an exact match as with organs received from dead donors.

TOMORROW: Andrew Ready talks to The Post about live organ donation and what it involves.


Deputy Mayor Mike Sharpe and wife Thelma at their home in Erdington (SB141107Sharpe-01) Picture, SAM BAGNALL
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Nov 15, 2007
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