A NORTH-EAST woman is about to donate a kidney to a complete stranger – so that her desperately ill fiancé can have a chance of a normal life.

Vicki Robertson, 36, of Darlington, will undergo the three-hour operation at The Freeman Hospital, in Newcastle, through the Uk Living Kidney Sharing Scheme.

And, in return, her fiancé, Kevin Taylor, 41, will receive a kidney from someone he doesn’t know and is unlikely to ever meet.

The pioneering kidney sharing scheme enables pairs of people, who are incompatible for direct organ donations, to be ‘pooled’ with the aim of finding a successful match.

When they first joined the scheme in 2019, there was no match for nine months, so the couple were advised that the best option would be for Vicki to become a direct donor, even though her blood was not 100 per cent compatible.

The transplant was due to go ahead in April last year but, with just a week to go, it was cancelled due to Covid.

With much of the transplant programme grinding to a halt during the pandemic, Vicki and Kevin were advised to rejoin the shared scheme when it resumed once lockdown restrictions had lifted.

And Now, the couple have received a telephone call confirming that a match has been found and the transplants will go ahead before July.

Vicki, who runs the Holly Doggie Deli, in Darlington town centre, said: “I was initially disappointed that I couldn’t give my kidney directly to Kevin, but I know I’ll be helping someone else and by doing that, Kevin also gets the chance of a life with some kind of normality.”

Kevin, a former assistant professional at Darlington’s Stressholme Golf Club, has been suffering from chronic kidney failure since he was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder when he was 15. His kidney function is now down to just eight per cent, and he has to rely on dialysis three times a day, seven days a week.

He said: “Ideally, Vicki would be a direct donor but that’s no longer the best option. I’ll be gaining a kidney, but Vicki will be losing one, so it really is a massive thing for her to do.”

The couple have been together for 20 years but have resisted getting married because of the uncertainty surrounding Kevin’s health.

However, if the transplants go according to plan, they’ll be setting a wedding date in the near future.