A MOTHER stepped forward to give her sick daughter a kidney – only to discover she too was suffering from the same illness.

Debbie Senior told today of her devastation when she discovered she could not give the gift of life to her 15-year-old daughter, Lauren, but instead had to have her own badly diseased kidney removed. She said with Lauren’s kidney function steadily deteriorating, the only hope now of her avoiding dialysis would be for a donor to be found through the national organ donor register.

Lauren, who used to live in York but now lives in Southfield Road, Pocklington, said: “I just want to be normal, like any other teenager.”

She revealed her ambition was to become a renal nurse to help other young people suffering from kidney failure.

Debbie threw her wholehearted support behind The Press’s Lifesavers campaign, which aims to recruit 20,000 new donors in our region to the register by the end of the year.

“The more people there are on the register, the better the chances that a donor will be found for Lauren,” she said.

She said Lauren, who formerly attended St Wilfrid’s RC Primary School in Monkgate, York, but is now a pupil at Woldgate School in Pocklington, suffered from chronic renal impairment, secondary to reflux nephropathy and renal dysplasia.

She said Lauren’s condition had been discovered through a routine scan when Debbie was pregnant. “It meant her kidneys are only the size of a walnut – they should be much bigger,” Debbie said. “She has always been on a very strict diet, because she cannot tolerate potassium. That means she cannot eat bananas, and potatoes must be boiled twice before they can be eaten.

“It has led to numerous infections, which means she has had to undergo literally hundreds of courses of antibiotics since she was a baby. It also means she gets very tired. Only on Monday, she went to school but had to come home because she was just too tired.”

She said that over the past year or two, Lauren’s kidneys had gradually deteriorated, to the point that she now had only 16 per cent kidney function.

“If it falls below 15 per cent, it means she will have to start having dialysis. It’s a race against time to get her a transplant. The doctors have said they would like her to undergo it before her 16th birthday in April.

“Her father, Kevin, and I were both prepared to give her a kidney when it proved necessary.

“You would do anything for your children. But her father died a couple of years ago. I was devastated when I found I couldn’t give her one of mine. I feel we've been dealt a really bad hand.”

She said Lauren’s two sisters, Natasha, 23, and Rachel, 21, had only recently had babies and could not give a kidney, and there was also a risk that they too might be suffering from the genetic condition.

“They both say that having seen what Lauren has been through, they would prefer not to know,” she said.

She said Lauren’s friends at Woldgate School had packed bags at the town’s Sainsbury’s supermarket to raise money for St James’ Hospital in Leeds, to provide dialysis for young people in their own home rather than in hospital.

Lauren’s condition in focus

What is chronic renal impairment, secondary to reflux nephropathy and renal dysplasia?

It is renal or kidney damage resulting from a developmental condition known as Vesico-ureteral Reflux or VUR. Present since birth, in VUR the urine flows the wrong way, due to a malformed ‘trapdoor into the bladder, and backs up into the kidneys causing distension, infections and scarring and therefore loss of kidney function.

Dysplasia is an abnormal and extremely rare development of skin, bone, or tissues in this context, the kidneys.

The structural as well as functioning parts of the kidney are affected. Sometimes the condition is not detected until adulthood, sometimes it is more severe, resulting in renal failure in early childhood.

Source: Kidney Research UK. (kidneyresearchuk.org)

How to join the organ donation register

The Press launched its Lifesavers campaign last month, with the aim of recruiting an extra 20,000 donors in our circulation area by the end of 2010.

You can join the register by:

• Going online at organdonation.nhs.uk.

• Phoning the 24-hour donor line on 0300 123 23 23.

• Texting SAVE to 84118.

You can also join when you:

• Register for a driving licence.

• Register at a GP surgery.

• Register for a European Health Insurance Card.

• Apply for a Boots Advantage card.

Leaflets have also been sent to every shop or outlet that sells The Press, and are also displayed in GPs surgeries, libraries and many hospitals and pharmacies.