A woman has given one of her kidneys to a complete stranger so her friend can get a new one.

Emma Shields could not give friend Helen Morgan a kidney as they were not a biological match.

So she gave one of hers to a person in Ireland, while a donor there gave their kidney to Mrs Shields in return.

The “paired kidney transplant” was arranged through a register of people in similar situations.

Last month, Mrs Morgan became only the fifth person to undergo the procedure at Oxford’s Churchill Hospital since September 2008.

Mum-of-three Mrs Morgan, 36, has suffered kidney complications since she was 13.

Last year she was told that the organ had deteriorated and she needed dialysis three times a week.

Mrs Shields, 28, said: “I could see how it was affecting Helen. She didn’t have much quality of life and it wasn’t nice to see a friend go through that.

“The hospital told us about the paired exchange scheme and that would be another option.”

Mrs Shields, who works on the hot deli counter at Tesco in Pingle Drive said: “I talked to Helen and my husband about it and decided that’s what I was going to do.

“She would get a kidney and would not have to wait to get one.”

Mrs Shields, of Southwold, Bicester, added: “I was petrified about having the operation but my husband got me through it.

“I still can’t believe I have done it.

“But it does make me feel good knowing Helen is a lot better and I have also helped someone else.

“Two people have got nice healthy kidneys and both can have a healthy life out of it.”

Mrs Morgan said: “I think it’s absolutely amazing what Emma has done, I can’t thank her enough.”

The mum-of-three was disagnosed with a condition which led to kidney complications, and later chronic kidney disease, when she was 13.

The Old Place Yard, Bicester, resident said: “She has given a healthy kidney away to a complete stranger, but if anyone asks she says gave it to me.

“It’s such a selfless thing to do.”

Mrs Morgan, a housewife who used to work with Mrs Shields at Tesco, has been told the kidney will last at least 10 years but she will have to take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of her life.

  • About 1,500 transplant operations were carried out in the UK last year, of which 20 were paired.

Donors can expect to wait around three years on the transplant list before a match is found.

One in three kidneys used in transplant in the UK now come from living donors.

Last year the total number of living donor kidney transplants increased by 12 per cent There were 927 in 2008/09 and 1,037 in 2009/10.