A husband is helping to save his wife by donating a kidney to a stranger
When Andrea Keys was told her kidneys were starting to fail, husband Stuart offered to donate one of his own.
But the mother-of-two was not able to receive an organ directly from her husband.
Instead, Mr Keys now has the opportunity to help his wife – and save a stranger's life at the same time – through an extraordinary four-way 'kidney swap'.
The exchange will see eight patients go under the knife in a series of interlinked operations – performed in a single day at four different hospitals, with four organ donors and four recipients.
Mrs Keys' health problems began at the age of 14 when she was diagnosed with Wilson's Disease – a genetic disorder that results in a build-up of copper in the body.
Her husband said: "She was told that without a liver transplant she would be dead within three weeks."
When Andrea Keys was told her kidneys were starting to fail, Stuart offered to donate one of his own
This only happens four times a year so we’ve been very lucky to get a chance
The transplant was successful, but in a cruel twist of fate the medication started causing her kidneys to fail.
It also caused her to develop arthritis, forcing her to quit her job as a groom, and leaving her in need of a total knee replacement on both legs.
Mr Keys, 41, from Throckley, a village near Newcastle, said: "It's very difficult to get your head round – the medicine has kept her alive but it's made her worse at the same time."
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Stuart and Andrea pictured with their children Lara (14) and Louis (12)
Four years ago Mrs Keys, also 41, began feeling unwell and lethargic, and was eventually told she was suffering kidney failure and would need another transplant.
She currently spends hours a day hooked up to a dialysis machine at home as she waits for the life-saving operation – a process which leaves her constantly tired.
Mr Keys offered to donate one of his own kidneys to his wife of 17 years, but tests revealed the couple were not a match for a transplant.
The pair, who are parents to Lara, 14, and Louis, 12, were thrown a potential lifeline when they were offered the chance to be part of a paired donation scheme.
Mr Keys said: "This only happens four times a year so we've been very lucky to get a chance.
"I've been successfully matched with someone and they're optimistic they've got a match for Andrea as well.
"I know it's going to be hard and we're both going to be incapacitated for a while if it goes ahead, but dialysis is such a drain on Andrea at the moment so I'm looking forward to getting her better.
"She's had some terrible luck in her life and a really tough time recently."