A grandmother is celebrating her “gift of life” 40 years after she was given a donated kidney.

Kathleen Hart underwent a kidney transplant at St James’ Hospital in Leeds in December, 1973. The 70-year-old from Meadow Lea, Sutton, is believed to be the hospital’s longest surviving transplant patient and one of the longest survivors in the country.

To celebrate her achievement, she held a special party for family and close friends at the home of her son Robert on the aniversary of the surgery.

“I can’t believe it’s 40 years ago. Time has flown. But it has meant I have been able to see Robert go to school, enjoy having grandchildren and visiting a friend in Canada,” said Kathleen.

“I’m living proof of how vital organ donation is. It really does allow people to live a full and normal life, like we have done. I’ve been given the gift of life.”

Kathleen had been poorly since she was aged about 25 and had got steadily worse, eventually being put on dialysis.

But it meant travelling to hospital in Leeds three times a week, spending up to 15 hours on the machine.

Two years later she had the transplant.

Despite being nervous, it proved to be the right decision.

Kathleen said: “I was frightened when I went for the surgery, but I knew I had to go through with it and take the chance in order to lead a normal life.”

In 2005, Kathleen and Ken attended a gala dinner at the Dorchester Hotel in London where 150 transplantees celebrated 25 years since their life changing surgery.

Lindsay Ledden, of Kidney Research UK, said they had no statistics relating to the longest surviving transplant patients but a transplant usually lasted between ten and 15 years.

“More than 6,000 people, that’s around 90 per cent of the total organ waiting list, are waiting for a kidney, but less than 3,000 transplants are carried out each year,” she said.

To join the donor register, or for more information, visit organdonation.nhs.uk/ how_to_become_a_donor/