Kidney transplant patient celebrates new year with new hope
Above: Jarrod Riordon recovering at St Vincent’s after his kidney transplant
Jarrod Riordon was just about to turn 21 when he lost both his parents to cancer. His mother and father died six months apart and it was not long after this loss Jarrod received some devastating news about his own health.
He’d noticed his hands and feet swelling and that his blood pressure was unusually high. He was also suffering from regular headaches. After seeing a GP, Jarrod learned the symptoms were triggered by kidney complications, which ultimately led to him being on dialysis for three years.
“I felt so tired all the time and just wanted to sleep – even in the middle of the day. It really started to take a toll on my life,” Jarrod said.
The diagnosis made work challenging and eventually he was forced to give up his job.
“I work on my best mate’s farm and really enjoy it. I help round up cattle and sheep in the stock yards on my motorbike. It just became too hard as I got worse,” he said.
His lack of energy and breathlessness meant Jarrod had to give up some of his hobbies as well, including playing on the local footy and cricket teams.
“It affected my social life. I struggled to go out with my mates at night; I was just too tired,” he added.
In 2020, he was told he needed a kidney transplant and started regular dialysis at Warrnambool Base Hospital. Each session would last up to five hours.
“I was in shock; the news hit me really hard. Everything changed in an instant and I just thought, ‘so this is going to be my life – I will be stuck on dialysis for the rest of it’,” Jarrod said.
There were days when he would be disheartened and lose hope while he waited for a call about a donor match.
“I knew I had a long and difficult road ahead. I’d just keep telling myself to stay positive; that it’ll happen, it’ll happen,” Jarrod said.
Above: Jarrod Riordon on the farm
The greatest gift of all
When Jarrod finally received a call from the transplant team at St Vincent’s just a few weeks before Christmas about a suitable donor, he felt overwhelmed. He knew he had just received the ultimate gift.
The operation was performed at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, where he had also been receiving regular treatment for his kidney issues since 2015.
“My experience here has been amazing. I would rate the care as an 11 out of 10. The staff are just great. I was definitely in the right spot,” Jarrod said.
“I never thought something like this would ever happen to me. I feel very lucky to have this second chance at life.”
The first kidney transplant at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne was performed in 1971. Today, the hospital manages the care of more than 300 dialysis patients and in the past two years, close to 50 kidney transplants have been completed.
“There are many more people on dialysis today than there are donors,” said Allyson Manley, a post renal transplant clinical nurse consultant at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne.
“It just takes a minute to register as an organ donor and impact of that decision can be life-changing for others in need. We see the difference it makes.”
To register as an organ donor, visit: https://www.donatelife.gov.au/register-donor-today