Kidney transplant man to meet the people who saved his life 40 years on

This Is Local London: Kidney transplant man to meet the people who saved his life 40 years on Kidney transplant man to meet the people who saved his life 40 years on

A plea from a kidney transplant patient to meet the people who saved his life nearly 40 years ago has been met.

Bob Hughes, then 25 and living in Norbiton Hall, was one of the first people to receive a “live” kidney transplant in 1974 when his brother John stepped forwards to go under the knife at St Thomas’s Hospital.

His former dietician Marianne Vennegoor, who lives in Surbiton, saw the article in the Surrey Comet.

She said: “I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t recognise him as he is now, but because of the words transplant, kidney and St Thomas’s and then I thought this is a real story.

"It was amazing. Bob was definitely one of the few of the first ones.”

Ms Vennegoor had been working in the embryonic world of dialysis since 1967, when she arrived from Holland, then 28 years old and was involved in setting up a renal unit.

She said: “We had no clue ourselves what we should do it then a lot of information from America and the Royal Free Hospital.

“We wrote cookbooks. It was recipes for patients for instance.”

Ms Vennegoor joked she was “bad news” for some “naughty patients” who broke the strict rules on things like low salt and low potassium.

She said: “They went to the pub to drink before dialysis and pulled all these naughty tricks and he was probably part of it.”

She retired in 1999 but stayed in touch with renal charities and celebrated another 40th anniversary last year with another former kidney transplant recipient who lives in Tolworth.

Mr Hughes, now 65 and living near Durham City, said: “I remember the cookbooks. It was impossible to keep to the diet.

"We used to look forward to a particular day when we had ham sandwiches.”

Of Ms Vennegoor he said: “I would love to see anybody down there.”

A spokesman for Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust says: “It is always touching to hear the inspiring stories of patients past and present.

“We look forward to welcoming Bob Hughes and his family to St Thomas’ Hospital in the new year.”

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