Kidney transplant going strong 20 years on

A young man and woman standing outside with their arms around each others waist
FSH storeman and kidney transplant advocate Tim Ensor and his sister Laura Ensor, FSH Senior Occupational Therapist.
February 28, 2018

Fiona Stanley Hospital (FSH) storeman Tim Ensor is this week celebrating a significant medical milestone – the 20th anniversary of his lifesaving kidney transplant.

Tim was born with multiple kidney failure, having minimal function in one kidney and the other with completely no function.

By the time he was 14, he had been in and out of hospital his whole life and had near to complete kidney failure, with the only options to start dialysis or have a transplant.

In February 1998 Tim’s mother Sally became his donor.

“My family were all tested to confirm their blood type and my mum was a match to me. It was a feeling of relief and luck that this was going to happen,” Tim said.

“Live donors have a greater success rate, particularly a family donor, as it reduces the chance of organ rejection.”

Tim describes his transplant as life-changing in every possible way.

“I had energy to actually do things. I was able to attend school full time, go on holidays with my family and I started swimming, even competing at the Pacific Games, winning medals in all my categories.”

In Australia, around four in every ten kidney transplants are still functioning 15 years later.

“No one knows how long it will last, it depends on the medication, how you take care of yourself and I am guessing, a little luck,” Tim said.

“I try not to think about it too much as it is out of my control. I know I am lucky to have had the kidney for this long, with minimal issues, considering it is the age of my mum!”

Tim has been working at FSH for more than four years as a storeman, and in a happy coincidence, his sister Laura also works at FSH as a Senior Occupational Therapist.

“He is the most patient, gentle, empathetic person I know,” Laura said.

“Most people have no idea what Tim has been through. He doesn’t make a big deal of things; rather he takes it in his stride and is thankful for everything he has.”

For Tim, working in health is just one way he can pay tribute to the doctors and nurses who saved his life.

“I have come full circle, I have gone from getting out of hospitals as a child to now going there every day for work,” he said.

Tim encouraged everyone to join him and his family and register as an organ donor.

“People may not realise but there are so many people waiting for an organ to live, it can truly save someone’s life,” he said.