TWO friends who had drifted apart and spoke little for 20 years now have a bond forever after a life-saving kidney donation brought them back together.

Bev Farnsworth, of Silkstone, has suffered for decades with polycystic kidney disease a genetic disorder that causes cysts to grow in the kidneys, leading the organs to enlarge and lose function over time.

The disease has already taken the life of 65-year-old Bev’s mother Kathleen Blackburn, as well as grandmother Annie Woodward while her brother Alan Blackburn is currently on dialysis.

Bev had one kidney removed during cancer treatment but attended Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital after her remaining kidney continued to degrade.

To avoid dialysis a treatment that requires blood to be taken out of the body and filtered through an external machine she began seeking potential transplant donors.

She told the Chronicle: “It started with my grandmother but she didn’t know that she’d got polycystic kidneys.

“My mother found out she had it when she was in her 50s, so from there we learnt that it’s a family thing and we need to keep an eye out.

“I have two sons and one has it it’s widespread and undiscriminating.

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“I knew what would happen I saw what happened to my mother and vowed I was not going that way.

“You’ve got to understand that when you’re on dialysis it’s horrendous I can only speak from watching other people but I saw my mother go through it and she suffered in silence.

“She would go to the unit and you could tell she’d had enough, it was horrendous.

“So as my kidney started failing more I decided to go look for a donor.

“I started a Facebook appeal because I never used to tell anyone about my issues.

“The responses to the appeal were amazing I had about a dozen come forward offering to donate.”

After tests on the potential donors, Bev’s friend, 49-year-old Lisa Chapman, was identified as the best match.

“I’ve known Lisa years, but I hadn’t had proper contact with her for over 20 years.

“Lisa rang me up and just said ‘you can have one of mine, love’, because that’s what she’s like.”

Bev transferred from Sheffield to St James’ Hospital in Leeds after seeking a second opinion on treatment options following, what she claims, was an initial rejection from medics.

“I thought it’s my life, my kidney, so I phoned up Lisa and said ‘what do you think about getting a second opinion?’

“‘What do you think about going to Leeds?’

“If I’d just sat here and accepted what I was told, I’d be on dialysis now.”

The pair went into surgery on September 9, 2022.

The operation was a success, saving Bev from lows of four per cent kidney function upon surgery and giving her a new chance at life.

It’s been a journey which has also rekindled Bev’s friendship with Lisa the kidney-sharing pair are now closer than ever and are preparing to take on the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge in June to raise money for St James’ and raise awareness of organ donation.

They have already raised nearly £1,400, but hope to reach £5,000 in total, and will be hosting a hog roast at the Thornely Arms in Dodworth on May 26 as part of their efforts.

Lisa added: “I’ve known Bev for 30 years but didn’t know she was struggling because she kept it to herself.

“We used to go out on a Sunday night but as you grow older, get married and have kids you drift.

“So when I saw her Facebook appeal I knew I wanted to volunteer I didn’t give it a second thought.

“You can live with only one kidney and save someone’s life at the same time.

“This has really brought us closer together obviously it’s a bond forever.

“We’re just trying to give something back now.”

A spokesperson from Leeds Hospitals Charity said: “We are delighted that Bev has taken on this fundraising challenge following her successful kidney transplant at St James’.

“We wish Bev and Lisa the very best of luck for their training and fundraising endeavours. It shows how life-changing transplants can be.”