Glenis Lucanus (left) & Dr Helen Rhodes (right)

Glenis Lucanus (left) & Dr Helen Rhodes (right)

A stroke of very good fortune 50 years ago gave Hamilton Hill resident Glenis Lucanus the opportunity for a long and full life.

On 1 July, transplant recipient Glenis Lucanus celebrated 50 years with her life-saving kidney that was implanted by a Royal Perth Hospital team comprising surgeon, the late Dr Gwyn Brockis, and renal physicians, the late Dr James Hurst and Dr Ted Haywood who, despite retiring 25 years ago, still keeps in contact with Glenis.

The 84-year-old Glenis told Medical Forum that she had nephritis as a child which led to her kidney failure and ultimately transplant surgery. She has the longest surviving donated kidney in WA and the third oldest donated kidney in Australia according to the Australian and New Zealand Dialysis and Transplantation Authority (ANZDATA).

Glenis Lucanus and husband Bill

Glenis Lucanus and husband Bill

She thanks her doctors and her family for good health.

“Right at the very beginning, I thought if I ever got a kidney transplant I’d look after it, and I’ve kept to my promise. My family make sure I do,” Glenis said. “I can’t believe I keep achieving these milestones and I don’t think my family can either, but they are very happy and supportive.”

Glenis’s donated kidney has helped her and husband Bill raise a family of three daughters, and the couple now have six grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

“He’s as happy as Larry, you’d think it was his kidney,” Glenis said.

We also tracked down Dr Haywood from the transplant team who said a case like Glenis’s was “just incredible”.

“It’s the sort of thing you hope for from an identical twin donor,” he said.

“In those early days there was pretty rudimentary tissue typing, matching was not nearly as good as it is today, and the immuno-suppressive drugs were basic as well. I don’t think they are used anymore.”

“It’s important to mark these milestones. There was great community spirit at RPH and at Fremantle Hospital.”

Glenis’s consultant is now Dr Helen Rhodes at Fiona Stanley Hospital.

“I have looked after Glenis intermittently since I was a trainee at RPH in 1990, then at Fremantle for almost 20 years and for the past few years at FSH,” Helen told Medical Forum.”

“No credit to the medical teams, other than the initial transplant team or to modern technology – she has been incredibly lucky, receiving a young kidney with excellent function and she has looked after the kidney and herself.”

“The most remarkable fact is that after 50 years, her current creatinine level is 66umol/L. Tell any doctor that and they will be astonished!”

Kidney Health Australia CEO Chris Forbes said Glenis’s story gave hope to chronic kidney disease patients eligible for a transplant that the procedure could help them live well and for longer.

Kidney Health Facts

  • The average wait for a kidney transplant is three years.
  • According to ANZDATA, in 2017 there were 1109 kidney transplants performed in Australia and 187 performed in New Zealand, with live donor transplants contributing 24% and 37% of total transplants, respectively.
  • The biggest risk factors for kidney disease are diabetes, high blood pressure, established heart problems and/or stroke, family history of kidney failure, smoking, obesity, being 60 years or older, of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin, or a history of acute kidney injury.
  • 65 people die with kidney-related disease every day
  • 1 in 3 people in Australia are at risk of developing chronic kidney disease
  • 7 million Australian adults are affected by kidney disease while 1.5 million of those are unaware of it
  • Kidney-related disease kills more people than breast cancer, prostate cancer and road accidents combined
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