It has emerged that the life of prominent Birmingham Labour MP Khalid Mahmood was saved by a secret ‘live’ kidney transplant from one of the party’s European MPs, Siôn Simon.
In a political world infamous for backstabbing, competitiveness and harsh brutality, the incredible act of friendship between Perry Barr MP Khalid Mahmood and West Midlands MEP Siôn Simon was unknown to even close colleagues.
The two, who have been friends for 20 years have now spoken publicly to the Daily Mirror for the first time to encourage others to donate organs.
Mr Mahmood, who is Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Europe Minister, and Mr Simon – a West Midlands MEP and Minister in the last Labour Government are supporting the Change the Law for Life campaign run by the newspaper.
Mr Mahmood’s life-saving operation took place three years ago but until now the source of the donor had remained a mystery.
The 56-year-old suffered complete renal failure in 2008, which was followed by six years of dialysis and two failed transplant matches.
Treatment left Mr Mahmood so sick that he struggled to climb even a small flight of stairs.
Mr Mahmood, 56, whose twin brother’s kidneys failed before he died of a heart attack, said, “It was a simple act of kindness and I owe him a debt of gratitude.
“I was quite flabbergasted.
“The decision is a huge one, to give one of your body parts to someone close, and for someone to take that decision is quite phenomenal.
“It was a very emotional time.
“I didn’t want to impose so when Siôn offered I was hesitant, shocked, but he insisted.
“I could never have asked.”
Mr Simon, 49, joked, “I’m fine and Khalid has come back to life, which is a mixed blessing, obviously.”
The Labour MEP told how he decided suddenly over lunch in Shere Khan, a Pakistani restaurant in Birmingham’s Star City complex, that he could donate one of his own kidneys.
“I could see Khalid getting more and more sick,” he said.
“He started off being a bit sick but with every month and year that passed he got more ill, and then he started to die.
“It’s miraculous the difference it can make to the recipient and kind of miraculous the difference it doesn’t make to the donor.
“It was just talking to him about it over lunch at Star City.
“He had been increasingly ill and looking as if he was going to die at some point.
“It was then that I realised actually I could help.
“I could do it instead of waiting and expecting he’d receive a kidney from somebody else when that might never arrive.
”He hesitated and after a few weeks I said I’d ring them if he didn’t, so we sort of did it together.”
The transplant was carried out in Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital in January 2014 with Mr Simon’s kidney immediately inserted into Mr Mahmood’s body.
Following Jeremy Corbyn, Theresa May last week agreed to switch to a donor opt-out register in England rather than opt-in, boosting organ donations to potentially save the 500 who die annually waiting for heart, kidney and other transplants.
“When Jeremy made his announcement and the Daily Mirror ramped up its campaign, me and Khalid thought it was the moment to do the same,” said Mr Simon.
“Nobody can accuse us of doing this for political benefit and it was never about politics.
“It was about friendship and helping, saving a life.”