Sandra is a senior crimes and justice reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times.

The cost of a life-saving operation hits home

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Good Times: Frankie Egglestone (left), with her daughter, Lexi Egglestone-Leach, 7, and good friend Lianne Bateman, who is donating a kidney to Ms Egglestone. Photo/George Novak.
Good Times: Frankie Egglestone (left), with her daughter, Lexi Egglestone-Leach, 7, and good friend Lianne Bateman, who is donating a kidney to Ms Egglestone. Photo/George Novak.

The next phase of Tauranga mother Frankie Egglestone journey towards wellness begins today.

On Sunday the 29-year-old mother of one and her live kidney donor Lianne Bateman's story will feature on TV One's "Good Sorts" programme.

Ms Egglestone was born with one kidney which failed when she was five, and she received her mother's kidney at 6 which lasted almost 19 years before it also failed.

Nine live donors who were not a match offered to donate her a kidney, and she almost lost hope until Tauranga mother of two Lianne Bateman stepped forward three years ago.

Initially Ms Bateman was discounted until she was found to be a perfect match after further retesting this year - doctors had told Ms Egglestone there was only a 10 per cent chance of ever finding a suitable donor.

Today, the pair attend a pre-admission appointment at Auckland Hospital during which their surgeon would explain what would happen during their October 5 surgeries.

Between September 21 and October 5, there are a number of medical processes Ms Egglestone and her donor must undergo before the transplant operation.

"I will be spending a lot of time attached to machines so l will need to make sure I buy a lot of colouring books," Ms Egglestone said.

If the operation goes according to plan, she would spend six weeks up in Auckland recuperating - 10 days in hospital and the rest at a motel so she can have daily checkups.

Aside from the emotional and physical toll, the financial burden for the 29-year-old and her donor were significant.

"While I'm in Auckland I still have to pay my rent, my power, telephone and other bills, and my ex-partner who has been so supportive is significantly reducing his work his hours to look after our daughter Lexi," she said.

Accommodation costs for Ms Egglestone, her donor and their support persons and most of their transport costs would be met by the Government, but other expenses were not.

Ms Bateman said she would be taking three weeks sick leave and a week's annual leave and still needed to cover her mortgage, and other expenses, including food costs for her and her support person during her recuperation.

Her employers had been "amazingly supportive" and being the only dental hygienist at Dental Solutions Tauranga it was a big ask to be granted this amount time off work.

"I'm a little bit excited and but also a little bit nervous. But I'm doing this because Frankie is my friend and I love her, and don't want her to die," Ms Bateman said.

Ms Egglestone said even if she and her family were financially able to do so, it was illegal to pay a donor for an organ.

Once she was off dialysis and no longer needing regular hospital visits it was going to mean a huge financial savings for the Government, close to a $1m last year, she said.

"It's really starting to hit home that I soon going to get a new kidney and my life is going to change dramatically. Oh my goodness it only a few days away, I can't wait.'

Timeline of pre-admission appointments

September 13 - Pre-admission appointment with Auckland Hospital surgeon
September 21 - Ms Egglestone undergoes another round of chemotherapy,
followed by blood test to check antibodies in her blood suppressed.

September 28 - Starts a course of plasmapheresis which removes all the plasma
out of her body to ensure any remaining anti-bodies removed

- That is followed by four rounds of plasma and dialysis treatments

October 4 - Further cross match testing before being given transplant greenlight

October 5 - Transplant operation takes place in Auckland Hospital

- Bay of Plenty Times

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