A BARRY woman who donated a kidney to a stranger – while working for the NHS and studying – is now a qualified paramedic.

Michelle Morgan, 52, was working full time as an emergency medical technician at Barry ambulance station, when she decided she wanted to be a fully qualified paramedic.

She joined the Dip HE Paramedic Science for Emergency Medical Technicians conversion course at Swansea University in 2019 – a few months later the Covid pandemic hit.

“As the pandemic hit, I found it very surreal with lots of uncertainty and new territory for everyone,” said Ms Morgan.

She had to stay up to date with new information, guidelines and working practices at work, while the university had to adjust and adapt to continue teaching.

“I did struggle with the lack of face-to-face learning and wasn’t the best for keeping myself disciplined with allocating my learning time,” admitted Ms Morgan.

“But I’m also exceptionally pleased with myself that I achieved my qualification.”

While juggling work and studies in 2020 Ms Morgan received awful news: her 12-year-old grand-niece, Keely Morgan, had severe kidney failure.

Keely was immediately placed on a dialysis programme and the kidney transplant list; many relatives – including Ms Morgan – underwent intensive screening but none were a match.

Instead, Ms Morgan and Keely joined a shared pool for kidney exchanges and – in September 2021 – they were successfully matched and given two weeks before the transplant exchange.

Ms Morgan was “in shock” at how quickly it a match was found and immediately informed staff at the university who were “amazing and exceptionally supportive”.  They allowed her to continue her studies after the surgery, offering her support.

The operation was a success. Ms Morgan returned to full operational duties after 12 weeks. Keely, now 14, had to undergo more surgery and is on long-term medication but is now dialysis free.

Ms Morgan graduated on Wednesday, July 26, and is a newly qualified paramedic.

She said: “I’m very proud of my own achievement of undertaking a university course and graduating, while working full time for the NHS through the pandemic and donating a kidney. 

“I would like to thank all my family, friends, work colleagues and cohort for their ongoing support throughout it all.”