The nephew of ex-footballer Andy Cole said he ‘had to do something’ to help his uncle after he suffered kidney failure, as he opened up for the first time about the donation.
The 46-year-old former Manchester United underwent a kidney transplant in April 2017 after suffering from a condition which causes scarring of the kidneys.
Appearing on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, his nephew Alexander, 28, who now has one kidney, said: ‘When I very first saw him and the state he was in, I thought I have just got to do something.
‘The decline and everything, from seeing him at the gym to seeing him not wanting to do anything and seeing him so lethargic I just thought if I can do anything I would do whatever it takes to help.’
He added: ‘My mum [Andy’s sister] was very supportive, she asked if I wanted to do it and said I didn’t have to feel forced to do it, but I said if I could do it I would.’
Andy Cole appeared on Good Morning Britain with his nephew Alexander who spoke about their bond after a kidney donation
The ex-Manchester United footballer first had kidney failure in 2014 and was told he would need a transplant
Andy first fell ill in June 2015, after picking up an airborne virus and said if it wasn’t for his wife Shirley he wouldn’t be here now.
He explained that it was only down to her ‘nagging’ him to seek medical attention did he discover something was wrong.
Andy had been on kidney dialysis and said he had been ‘in denial’ about the severity of his illness, which was diagnosed as focal segmental glomerulosclerosis.
What is focal segmental glomerulosclerosis?
The condition is scarring of the glomeruli, the tiny structures that fiter blood to make urine, which can only be seen under the microscope.
In many cases there are no symptoms and it’s only picked up during a routine medical check. In some cases there’s protein in the urine and ankle swelling occurs due to fluid retention.
If the condition is advanced, it can lead to tiredness and sickness. Experts are not yet clear on what causes the condition, but believe it’s an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks itself.
Source: Kidney Patients UK
His nephew Alexander went for tests to see if he was a suitable match and said he was happy to be able to help.
The Manchester United club ambassador, who won 15 England caps, said he was indebted to his generous nephew who fell ill after the operation.
‘It was difficult, I was up and about after about three days and I went to go and see Alex to see how he was and he wasn’t very well after the operation.
‘I thought then if I could change it I would. I would go back ill to see Alex well again.
‘That’s how I was I didn’t want to see Alex go through the pain that I had been enduring.’
Andy explained on GMB that after he returned from a trip to Vietnam he noticed his body start to change.
‘I started having water retention. My wife was saying to my I was putting on weight. I kept saying “no”, because I was always very strict on my weight when I retired.
Andy said that he felt indebted to his nephew who offered to help his uncle by donating one of his kidneys
The Manchester United ambassador said if it wasn’t for his wife Shirley, pictured, he wouldn’t still be here
‘Every day I just kept growing and growing, in the end I think her nagging finally got me to go to hospital.’
Andy also added about the proposed change in the legislation that will make people automatic donors: ‘I think it is a great initiative.
‘To have the opportunity to give someone life if they passed away, I think is an amazing thing and that’s why I sit in front of you now, for my nephew to do that for me.’
Good Morning Britain airs weekdays from 6am on ITV
WHAT IS THE OPT-OUT ORGAN DONATION SYSTEM?
The decision to adopt an opt-out organ donation system could save hundreds of lives, Prime Minister Theresa May claimed in October.
The move, to be discussed in the House of Commons tomorrow, means patients will automatically signed up to be organ donors when they die, and they have to opt-out if they don’t wish to, if it goes ahead.
English campaigners have long argued for the Government to adopt such a system to increase the number of organs available.
Figures estimate that around 6,500 patients are on the waiting list for an organ that could save their life. Such lists can be as long as five years.
And last year 457 people died in England while waiting for a transplant due to the shortage of organs, NHS data showed.
Mrs May’s plan is the polar opposite of the current system, which requires healthy adults to sign up to donate their kidneys, hearts and livers when they die.
Wales became the first country in the UK to adopt the system in 2015, which was deemed a ‘significant’ and ‘progressive’ change.
Under the new opt-out system in England, family members are still given a final opportunity to not go ahead with the organ donation.
It is believed the rule only applies to those who are deemed mentally capable of giving consent.