TWO SISTERS will celebrate Christmas in good health after one gave the other the lifesaving gift of a kidney.

Charlotte Wilkinson, 37, from Richmond, had been suffering from stomach pains and excessive tiredness for several months when she went to hospital for tests in February last year.

She said: “I had not been feeling that ill, just constantly tired, so I thought it might be Crohn’s disease.

“But I was told I had chronic kidney disease stage five and I would definitely need a transplant – sooner rather than later or I would have to go on dialysis as my kidneys were working at just nine per cent.”

Kidney dialysis is a process of removing waste and excess water from the blood.

Miss Wilkinson’s sister Rebecca, 32, made up her mind to help her sister and donate one of her kidneys.

Rebecca said: “It was an obvious decision to make – I researched the process then told the hospital I wanted the tests to see if I was a match.”

Although the sisters did not have a blood match doctors were able to treat the blood to allow a successful transplant.

But it took more than a year to complete all the necessary tests and the operation was finally booked for September this year.

Rebecca said: “I was told all the way that I could back out at any time, even as I was being anesthetised.

“Maybe if I had known how swollen I would be and how much pain I’d have afterwards I would have been more scared, but I wasn’t fazed going in to it.”

Charlotte said she felt better as soon as she came round from her operation – she now has three kidneys and is responding well to treatment.

And Charlotte and Rebecca’s cousin Nicola Wilkinson, 27, felt inspired to do something to help her family and completed the Great North Run for the first time, raising £1,192 for Kidney Research UK.

Charlotte said: “I just feel so thankful to Rebecca, we are both feeling well now and can enjoy Christmas with our family without the worry and stress of the last 18 months.”

The sisters have planned a ten-day holiday to Las Vegas and New York in September 2013 to mark the anniversary of the operation.