Her mother gave her the gift of life – and 21-year-old Milissa Hutchinson has now repaid the favour.
Known as Millie to her friends, she has been the carer for her mother, Mandy, who was suffering from kidney failure for more than a year. And on Valentine’s Day, it was the strong family bond that rang true as Millie went under the knife to donate a kidney to her mother.
Millie says it is impossible to put into words the feeling of waking up and realising you have saved someone’s life.
When her 49-year-old mother Mandy needed a life-saving operation after her body’s immune system began to attack her kidneys, she immediately volunteered to help.
Millie is now back at home recovering just a week after the life-saving operation, and now she can’t wait to have her mother by her side at home in Irvine Road, Bloxwich.
"When I came round after the operation, I didn’t really think about it,” Millie says.
“I was in a different world because of all the drugs I was on. But the next day I woke up and realised what had happened.
“You can’t explain it. We were on the same ward and when I looked at my mom she just looked so much better. She looked completely different.
“It’s crazy to think you have saved someone’s life, but when it is your mom’s life it’s so much better.
“We just cried when we first saw each other. I was with her in hospital but I came home on Tuesday, so hopefully she is home soon.
“It was so hard to see her the way she was but now were are both grateful for what has happened.”
Millie, who is her mother’s carer, immediately volunteered to donate a kidney when doctors told the family a live donation would be possible.
And while undergoing months of tests to see if they were compatible, Millie also started up a Facebook page to raise awareness of kidney disease and donation.
The page now has almost 3,000 likes.
Millie’s father Roy, said: “I’m just so proud of her. I’m proud of the both of them.
“At first we were saying there was no way she was going to do it but she was insistent.
“It’s not just the fact that she has done it, but also that she is now so determined to raise the profile of live donations.
“For a 21-year-old girl I think that is amazing and we are all so proud of her.”
The family have another daughter, Natalie, who is currently in America as she is bridesmaid at her best friend’s wedding.
Natalie also has a two-year-old daughter, called Tallula. Lorry driver Roy said: “It’s a shame the way the dates have fallen with Natalie being in America but when she gets back she is going to go straight to the hospital to see her mom.”
Mandy, who works in Asda, fell ill from the rare condition, and was on dialysis for more than a year while waiting for the operation.
Her husband said: “After a pregnancy, sometimes cells from the baby stay behind and then the immune system can decide to attack it.
“That’s basically what happened with Mandy and her immune system just kept getting more aggressive and attacked her kidneys.
“We knew she had it but it wasn’t that bad and then all of a sudden she had kidney failure. “That was about 16 months ago and she had to have dialysis at home to keep her going.
“It was horrible. She is normally such an active, fun person to be around.
“It was like she was a different person. I wanted my wife back and the kids wanted their mom back. When I saw her after her operation you could see straight away she looked a lot better.
“It’s not over yet though. It’s great to have Millie back home but I think it will be a while until Mandy comes home.”
Mandy was taken to Walgrave University Hospital in Coventry, where they shut down her immune system to allow her to have the operation.
He said: “Because of that they are keeping her in and it’s going to be a long while until she’s back to her best. I can’t say enough how amazing the staff have been at the hospital. Everyone has been fantastic.”