Nick and Philippa Allan got married last August and just a week later received a call that changed their lives.
But Nick initially thought it was his brothers Chris (38) and Martyn (28) pulling his leg during their honeymoon!
Nick (34), from Echt, explained: “Philippa and I had been out in Pitlochry during the day and went back to the hotel for a meal. I’d put my phone on silent and forgot to turn it back on.
“So they called Philippa and said I needed to get to the hospital in Edinburgh.
“My brothers said they were going to wind me up on our wedding day or honeymoon so I thought they were just kidding on.
“But when I checked my phone, I had a lot of missed calls from a mobile number.
“I called and was told I needed to get down to Edinburgh right away.”
It was a call Nick had waited two and a half years to receive. He was born with a kidney condition that meant neither of his organs worked properly.
He underwent surgery at 18 months old and then went for regular checkups to monitor how his kidneys were functioning.
At a routine appointment in October 2014, doctors delivered the news that his kidneys were failing and Nick started dialysis shortly after.
He said: “I’d lived with the condition all my life so hearing that I’d need treatment was a shock.
“The doctor told me I’d be lucky to make it to Christmas without being on dialysis but I held on until February 2015.
“By the time I went on dialysis, my kidney function had dropped to eight per cent. I thought I was okay but looking back I was constantly tired and agitated. Things were a bit of a struggle.”
Nick was determined the dialysis would not take over his life and kept working throughout.
He said: “I was team leader at that time for an oil company – in charge of the onshore group.
“I was determined to keep on working and have as normal a life as possible but it meant doing dialysis every night after work.
“I’d leave home at 7am and not get back until 10pm or 10.30pm every day
“Dialysis was hard. I felt like my life had been put on hold but I knew the treatment was the only thing keeping me alive.
“Some days were better than others; the staff at the hospital got me through some difficult times.”
Despite that, Nick decided to propose to Philippa and booked the wedding at the Winter Gardens in the hope she would say yes.
“I left flowers by the kettle one night – happily she said yes,” said Nick.
“We’d been together for ten years and she saw me through everything.
“She had to put up with an awful lot – the mood swings, not going out because I was too tired all the time – but she still said yes.”
The couple got married last August and were on honeymoon when Nick got the call that would transform their lives.
He said: “I was really lucky – I was only on the transplant list for two and a half years.
“But I didn’t get my hopes up too much until I was taken down to theatre and knew it was going to happen.
“I was building myself up for disappointment until that point. It was a really surreal experience.”
Happily, the transplant went ahead and Nick woke up to a whole new life.
“As soon as I woke up from surgery I instantly felt better,” he said. “Nothing could have prepared me for the difference it made.
“I’d just got married and then I got the gift that I’d waited over two years for.
“To have a life free from dialysis was the best feeling and I felt amazing. I didn’t realise how ill I’d been until I had the transplant and started to feel 100 times better. It was fantastic.”
Nick, an electrician by trade, has made the most of his donor’s incredible gift – enjoying life to the full and setting up his own business.
He said: “It was something I always wanted to do but would never have been able to achieve on dialysis.
“I now have my own electrical business and am working all over Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.
“It’s made a massive difference to Philippa and me too – we can go out and enjoy ourselves now. It’s nice to have that freedom; it’s a new life basically.”
As for his donor’s family, Nick has written a letter thanking them for his gift.
He said: “I know nothing about the person who made my transplant possible but I owe them everything.
“They saved my life and are truly my hero. I want their family to know I will be eternally grateful for this incredible gift.”
Nick is already on the organ donor register and hopes his story will encourage others to sign up.
He added: “It’s quite possibly the most important thing anyone can ever do.”
To join the NHS Organ Donor Register, visit weneedeverybody.org