After 13 years of living with kidney disease, Gravelly Beach father-of-two Michael Lockyer could barely hold his hands above his head.
He was slowly deteriorating, had little energy, and spent most of the time sleeping.
Mr Lockyer was diagnosed after moving to Tasmania with his wife, Ness, in 2003.
“They gave me 12 months without dialysis and I managed to last 13-and-a-bit years just by change of diet and trying to keep as fit as possible,” he said.
But it still took its toll on his health and lifestyle, and his family knew he needed a transplant.
Mr Lockyer’s mother initially put her hand up to be a donor. However, it wouldn’t have left her with enough kidney function.
So his wife started to look into her compatibility.
“I wanted to right from the beginning but he wouldn’t let me, and the doctors wouldn’t let me either because we hadn’t had children at that stage, so they take into consideration your age, whether you’ve had kids, because that puts pressure on your kidneys as well, and Mick didn’t want me to do it,” Ms Lockyer said.
“When his mum came back as not being able to do it, he still didn’t want me to do it, so I had to secretly get tested.”
She was a personal trainer at the time, which meant she was extremely fit, and it turned out, she was a good match.
By that stage, it was 2015, and Mr Lockyer had been living with kidney disease for 13 years. Five weeks later, the transplant was underway.
“The day before my operation, I was at 8 per cent kidney function, so basically right on dialysis time. The next day I woke up at 62 per cent, so I was extremely fortunate that it clocked on straight away,” he said.
When Ms Lockyer woke up after the surgery, the first thing she asked was if her husband was okay.
"They wheeled me over to him and they said, ‘he’s just starting to wake up now’, and the first thing I remember was looking over at him and he had this really peachy colour to his face and he was really warm. He’d always been really cold prior to that and he had a real grey look about him so he just looked really peachy and alive and really warm.”
Mr Lockyer’s energy levels went through the roof after the transplant.
“I was walking everywhere. I was in hospital for five days and then you couldn’t stop me from walking.
“My poor mother - she was over there as my carer, although I didn’t really need one, and by the time I got back, the pain had started at her feet and worked its way to her hips - the amount of walking we were doing.”
Now 41, the competitive cyclist is forever grateful his wife gave him such a generous gift.
“[The term] ‘life-changing’ gets thrown around, but it really was that big a deal,” he said.
“If one person reads this story and one person makes the decision to donate, that’s a big deal. It’s changing someone’s life.”
- DonateLife Week runs from July 30 to August 6. To register as a donor, visit donatelife.gov.au