A grandmother from Eastleigh says she will "forever be grateful" after receiving a kidney transplant after 17 unsuitable offers.

Alison Bennett, 61, was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease 16 years ago - a condition she managed to cope with until 2018 when she was put on dialysis.

In 2020, Alison had a kidney removed and after catching Covid, was placed on a ventilator.

After responding well to treatment, she slowly regained her strength and learned how to walk and talk again.

In March this year, after 17 previous donor offers, Alison received a new kidney at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth.

The transplant has given her "more time and energy" for the things she loves.

Daily Echo: Alison and Rick Bennett when they renewed their wedding vowsAlison and Rick Bennett when they renewed their wedding vows (Image: Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust)

She said: “My kidney transplant has massively improved my life. No more dialysis, which is life-changing in itself. I now have more time and energy to spend with my family, going out for trips together and doing the things we couldn’t do before.

“I can never thank enough the gift of life the donor’s family has given me. It has totally changed mine and my family’s life and I will forever be grateful.”

In July 2021, Alison and her husband Rick renewed their vows after 35 years of marriage, surrounded by her family.

Since her diagnosis in 2007, the Bennetts have raised more than £30,000 for charities and hospitals like Kidney Research UK and the kidney unit at Queen Alexandra Hospital.

Daily Echo: Alison Bennett with her familyAlison Bennett with her family (Image: Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust)

Anthony Clarkson, Director of Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation, at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Over 50,000 people are alive in the UK today thanks to the life-saving gift of organ donation. But this wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of our incredible donors and their families who have given their support for donation at what is often the most difficult of times.

“We know that most people support organ donation in principle, and we have seen a steady increase in the number of people confirming their support for organ donation via the NHS Organ Donor Register.

“However, we still need families to support their loved one’s decision and agree to donation when approached, which we know is most likely when they know that’s what they wanted.

“We urge everyone who supports organ donation to confirm their decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register. It is a simple action which only takes two minutes; but can ultimately save lives.”