A woman who has a rare genetic kidney disease has undergone a life-saving transplant after successfully appealing for an organ donor on Facebook.
Ann Gath, 43, from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, launched an online campaign to find a kidney donor in 2021 after her rare blood type meant she struggled to find a suitable transplant match.
She received thousands of comments from well-wishers and several people were tested to see if they could give her a kidney, but unfortunately they were all unsuccessful.
Thankfully, however, despite being a complete stranger, Nicola Hinds, 36, saw the post and reached out to Gath, also offering to be tested to see if she was a match.
In June last year Hinds discovered she was indeed a match and the two women are currently in the final stages of recovery from the transplant that they had in December last year.
"When I did the post in September  and again in January , I never really believed that a stranger would come forward and donate," Gath, a Slimming World consultant, explains.
"It just felt like it was the only control I had to put it out there and see what happened."
t The mum-of-five says receiving the phone call to say Hinds was a match was like "winning the lottery".
"It was just incredible," she recalls. "And very surreal.
"In June when I found out, I was really struggling with energy levels and it was getting harder and harder being on dialysis so it was amazing news."
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Gath was diagnosed with Autosomal Dominant Tubulointerstitial Kidney Disease in 2017, which means her kidneys were gradually deteriorating.
Within 18 months, she was forced to undertake life-saving dialysis sessions, where doctors regularly removed waste products and excess fluid from her blood.
This left her feeling "exhausted" and suffering from chronic fatigue, but following the transplant she can now do "basic stuff" like cooking her children's meals and taking them to the park.
"I'm back to my normal self," she says. "I can go shopping and it's not an ordeal, I can go for a walk and do all the housework.
"It was simple stuff like that that I couldn't do," she adds.
"I've started doing yoga again, so life is starting to return to normal."
Hinds says she saw Gath's Facebook post by chance and, after realising they share the same blood group, "immediately" decided she would put herself forward.
"I knew the biggest hurdle she would face is her blood group," Hinds explains.
"The chances of someone being a good blood group match were very slim so I thought that I could help her overcome that hurdle straight away.
"The fact she is able to do all of those things she wanted to do but was unable to do, makes me think that my decision to donate was the right decision.
"I just feel like now the mission is complete."
Since the surgery, in December 2022, Gath and Hinds have become firm friends, meeting up together several times and planning a trip to the seaside in the summer.
"It's almost like we forget how we met," Gath explains. "It feels like we've always been in each other's lives.
"I was a little bit reluctant to meet [Nicola] at first because I didn't want her to feel under pressure or feel guilted into it [donating her kidney] if that makes sense?
"But when we met, in November 2022, just before the surgery, it was just like meeting an old school friend, we never stopped talking and we've kept in touch ever since."
The pair now hope to encourage anyone who has ever wondered about being a donor to find out more information and help spread awareness.
"If you have an interest in being a living donor, please go onto the NHS website," Hinds says.
"I'm not asking people to do it and I don't expect anyone else to become a donor because it's a massive decision to make.
"But if anyone has ever thought about donating to a family member or friend, then please do consider it for a stranger too.
"And if you can't donate, the best thing you can do to raise awareness is by sharing posts and engaging with charities."
Additional reporting SWNS.