Sidmouth resident Kylie saves hubby by donating kidney

Colin and Kylie Cramb new owners of Coles in Sidmouth. Ref shs 30-16TI 5102. Picture: Terry Ife

Colin and Kylie Cramb new owners of Coles in Sidmouth. Ref shs 30-16TI 5102. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

A wife proved she was the perfect match for her husband in more ways than one when he needed a kidney transplant.

Dialysis patient Colin Cramb was told he had just months to live despite facing a three-year wait for a new organ.

With his kidney function dropping to eight per cent and time running out, his wife Kylie decided to see if she was a suitable donor - and they matched in four out of five categories.

“That’s almost unheard of for spouses,” said Colin, 59.

“The doctors said if I didn’t get a transplant, I wouldn’t be around for long.”

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Kylie, 47, said she didn’t hesitate to see if she was a match.

“I want Col around for as long as I can have him - if I matched, it was a no-brainer,” she said.

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But the operation was only the start of a long road to recovery for the couple – both physically and financially.

As Australians, they were unable to access benefits and spiralled into debt as they recovered.

It was only the sad death of a relative and an unexpected inheritance that saved them, and now they are working on their own terms as owners of High Street card shop Coles.

“The NHS was absolutely fantastic, but because we were seen as Australians, we weren’t able to get even a pound of help,” said Colin.

The couple spent all their savings and while recovering from their operations were unable to work.

They were both teachers at a top Queensland college, but on arrival in the UK were told their qualifications were not recognised and they would need to retrain.

At the time, the couple – committed Christians with three grown-up children – were living in the West Midlands with Kylie’s Uncle Roy and Aunt Beryl, who they ended up caring for after they were both diagnosed with cancer.

Beryl died shortly after Roy and left her unsuspecting relatives an inheritance.

“They were looking after us and easing us into the culture, but we ended up looking after them,” said Colin.

“Beryl left us an inheritance unexpectedly; it provided for our future.

“She knew we had nowhere to live and no money to survive. It meant we were able to pay off our debts, put a roof over our heads and buy a business down here.”

The couple decided their best option was to become self-employed, so they left Rugby to take on their own business in Sidmouth.

“Coming down to Sidmouth was a breath of fresh air in our recovery process,” said Colin, who now has indefinite leave to remain in the UK. His wife of 21 years is a dual passport holder.

“We feel very blessed to be here talking about it.”

“It’s changed us for the better,” said Kylie. “We try not to make judgements about other people – you don’t know their circumstances.”

Her husband added: “I wouldn’t change any of it. The lessons we’ve learned along the way have been worth every second.”

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