A 'MIRACLE' match-up has given a Cwmbran woman a new lease of life after she received the priceless donation of a kidney - from her best friend.

Zoe Richards, 40, had fought a gruelling three-year battle against kidney disease before being told last year that she needed a transplant urgently.

Step forward Rosie Morgan, 26, a student from Bridgend, who had watched her friend's health deteriorate and felt she could not stand by and watch her suffer any longer.

But the chances Rosie being a suitable match to donate a kidney to Ms Richards were slim.

“Zoe and I met in 2018 and we’ve been inseparable ever since. Over the years, we’ve enjoyed nights out, long walks and trips abroad together," said Ms Morgan.

“We’ve helped each other through some really challenging times over the years, and so when Zoe told me that she was suffering with kidney failure, I knew I wanted to do everything I could to support her.”

“I can remember the day she told me - she was so upset. After the initial diagnosis, her health kept deteriorating and it started to affect her day-to-day life.

“Zoe had always been relatively healthy, but she felt constantly tired and run down. It got to the point where she had to quit her job because she was too ill to work the long hours. She felt so low.

“I felt helpless. Nothing prepares you for seeing your friend like that, but I knew I had to stay strong and be there for her.”

The crisis led to Ms Morgan researching the possibility of her friend receiving a living donation, and in November she got tested.

“I hadn’t told anyone about this, not even Zoe, because I wanted to be sure I fully understood what I was doing before going through with it," said Ms Morgan.

“While getting tested, I was told how rare it would be for us because we are from different backgrounds. Zoe is mixed race, so I prepared myself for the worst news.”


But against all the odds, Ms Morgan turned out to be a match.

It was a miracle,” she said.

“Everything happens for a reason, and this was obviously meant to be. From that point, I knew I’d made the right decision.

“I called Zoe, and it was the most emotional phone call we’ve ever made. She’s a very kind person, and at first, she didn’t want me to risk my health and go through with it.

"But I didn’t want to do this for her, I wanted to do it for the both of us. We’ve been through everything together; I wasn’t going to let her go through it alone.”

The transplant, carried out on March 17, was successful and both women are now recovering.

Ms Morgan said: “I was naturally anxious about the transplant beforehand, especially as we were in the height of the pandemic.

"But the process before and during was incredible, and the staff at the University Hospital of Wales [in Cardiff] made us both feel safe throughout.

“We were able to see each other 12 hours after the transplant. We were both so emotional, I can’t describe the feeling.

"It was phenomenal. She immediately looked healthier; I had the old Zoe back again.

“Donating a kidney to my best friend is an incredible feeling. I can’t put it into words.”

For Ms Richards, the benefits were immediate.

“Since the transplant, it’s incredible how my health has instantly changed," she said.

"I’m no longer tired, my headaches have gone, and I finally have energy. My kidney is doing well and functioning at around 80 per cent.

“I can’t put into words how grateful I am to Rosie. Without her donation, I could have faced dialysis and a restricted future. I’m truly indebted to her for giving me the gift of life.

“Having a life-changing transplant during a period of such despair is special.

"I can now look forward to being able to enjoy the small things again, watching my son grow up, going on trips away with Rosie, and living my life to the fullest.

“People may be more hesitant than ever to go through with live donation at the moment, but I hope our experience encourages more people to consider it, and to speak about organ donation so more lives can be saved.”

Ms Morgan is hoping to run the Race to the Stones ultra-marathon and the London Marathon later this year, in aid of Kidney Wales.

Ms Richards is among 20,000 people in Wales with kidney disease.

Organ Donation Wales is urging people to have “the organ donation chat” with loved ones, to tell them of their decision if they are wishing to donate their organs.

To find out more and register, visit https://beta.gov.wales/organ-donation-campaign or call 0300 123 23 23.