A HEALTHY actress and musician gave the ultimate gift of life to a complete stranger after being inspired by a TV programme.

Lauren Storer, from Kendal, has now fully recovered from a life-changing operation which has seen one of her kidneys transplanted into someone she will never meet.

The 28-year-old's operation is one of only 350 to take place since the practice became legal nine years ago.


"It truly is a wonderful act and it is heartening to see that more and more generous people like Lauren are willing to give this very special gift to someone in need," said Dr Chris Burns-Cox, from Give a Kidney, an organisation which raises awareness of non-directed living kidney donation, the medical term for giving a kidney to a stranger.

Former Queen Katherine School pupil Lauren could not pin down how she came to the decision, saying: "There’s still no single, over-riding answer why I did it. I’ve been blessed with a wonderful life and I suppose I wanted to give something back.

"A number of years ago I saw a TV programme about living organ donation - I can’t even recall what it was now. I just remember that it lit a spark within me, which never went out."

Over the proceeding years Lauren, who has performed on the West End stage in the smash hit musical Dreamboats and Petticoats, dipped in and out of research.

"The more I did, the longer my list of ‘pros’ became," added Lauren, a Rose Bruford College graduate. "Of course there were risks too, there were inconveniences and considerations but they seemed incomparable to saving someone’s life.

"If someone was dying on the street in front of me and the only way to save them was to give them a kidney, I’d say 'whip it out, right here and now.'

"I think lots of people would. Just because I wasn’t falling over people in the street with kidney failure, didn’t mean it wasn’t happening."

Of the 5,700 people waiting for a kidney in the UK, 300 are likely to die this year.

After making the decision Lauren spoke with a local hospital who put her in touch with Give a Kidney and the wheels were set in motion ready for the operation late last year.

"The process was long," explained Lauren, who spent five days in hospital recovering from the three-hour operation. "There was lots of reading material, lots of tests and chats with doctors and nurses and surgeons, family and friends."

Non-directed living kidney donation is the least common form of donation.

The practice was legalised in 2006 and the following year only six procedures were recorded.

Lisa Burnapp, the lead nurse at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “What Lauren has done is a very selfless act - something genuinely good for someone in desperate need of a transplant.

"These are spontaneous and voluntary offers of donation, motivated by a decision to do something genuinely good for someone in need. This means that more patients can enjoy a life with their families and loved ones that is free from dialysis."

Although Lauren will never know whose life was saved by her actions, she did receive an anonymous letter from them.

"It is one of my most treasured possessions and proudly hangs on my wall," she said. "I feel humbled and honoured to have been able to do this for someone else and hope that wherever they are, they are happy.

"When I first told my family at Christmas 2013 they were really proud and thought it was a great thing to do. It was quite an emotional time."

The actress admitted it was a risk in a competitive world but says it was more than worthwhile.

"It was a bit of a dice throw in the way that you never know what you are going to miss out on but I was back in a job eight weeks after," she said.

In 2010, The Westmorland Gazette launched the Gift of Life campaign, which aimed to tackle the drastic shortage of organ donors living in the region and saw thousands of people sign up to the donor register.

Find out more at www.giveakidney.org or at www.organdonation.nhs.uk.