A CHANCE friendship made on the Knap in Barry, started by a Doberman, transformed a woman’s life, giving her a new kidney and allowing her to live free of dialysis.

Lucy Humphrey, from Caerphilly, was diagnosed with lupus in 2000, and by 2011 was having to receive chemotherapy treatment. She then was diagnosed with end-stage renal failure and had to go on dialysis while waiting for a new kidney.

This left Ms Humphrey, an active outdoors person, feeling exhausted all the time, and unable to take the exciting trips she had in the past across the country and the world.

In fact, the furthest she could go was Barry and the Knap beachfront.

It was one fateful day in 2021, while setting up her van to have a day at one of Wales’ most gorgeous beaches with her partner Cen and Doberman Indie, that Ms Humphrey’s life changed forever.

Indie kept going to the van next to Ms Humphrey’s, and the couple could not figure out why. Ms Humphreys explained: “There was no food there and no tennis balls so we had no idea why Indie kept going.”

Eventually, Cen went up to the van and apologised for Indie, this was where he met Katie James, of Barry, who, after a brief introduction was invited to have a BBQ with them.

Ms James bought some ciders and offered one to Ms Humphrey, who politely declined explaining she was on dialysis.

This was when Ms James said she was on the donors register and waiting to donate her kidney.

The two were said to have laughed and thought it would be interesting to see if they were a match – so far Ms Humphrey had failed to find a match for the procedure.

Ms James went away and arranged to see if she could in fact donate her kidney to Ms Humphrey, and, in a 22 million-to-one chance, the one came off…

Barry And District News: A chance encounter on the beach led to Lucy Humphrey (blonde hair) receiving a kidney off Katie James (right)A chance encounter on the beach led to Lucy Humphrey (blonde hair) receiving a kidney off Katie James (right) (Image: Supplied)

Lucy Humphrey (left) and Katie James (right) with Indie the dog

Unbelievably, Ms James was a perfect match.

It wasn’t until October 2022 that Ms Humphrey and Ms James could go through with the transplant, but ever since that fateful meeting, Ms Humphrey still cannot fully believe what happened.

“On the day, we swapped numbers and I did not expect to hear anything more about this,” said Ms Humphrey. “This was just some random woman I met on the beach.”

Barry And District News: Ms Humphrey suffered from lupusMs Humphrey suffered from lupus (Image: Supplied)

Lucy Humphrey in hospital

‘We have two kidneys, why don’t we just give one away?’

The reason Ms James donated her kidney is probably the purest form of altruism. She explained she was willing to donate her kidney since she was 15, but only now has had the chance to do it.

It is the simplest of logic that made Ms James go through with one of the most complex of procedures.

Ms James said: “I first found out it was something I could do at 15 and I thought if we all have two kidneys and we do not need both of them, why do we not just give one away?

“It was never much of a decision for me, I was just going to do it.”

Barry And District News: Katie James had always wanted to donate a kidneyKatie James had always wanted to donate a kidney (Image: Supplied)

Katie James in hospital

A medical secretary in Cardiff, Ms James comes across as carefree and positive, speaking over the phone.

She explains that kidney donations can be quite impersonal – often you never know where your kidney is going, but in this case Ms James was a living donor, meaning she chose where her kidney went.

“With this I get to see that it (the kidney) is working and she is living her life,” said Ms James. “It is overwhelming. I did not fully understand the impact it was going to have on her life.”

Barry And District News: Indie the Doberman brought the pair togetherIndie the Doberman brought the pair together (Image: Supplied)

Indie the doberman proved a real lifesaver

Barry And District News: Ms Humphrey (left) and Ms James connected for lifeMs Humphrey (left) and Ms James connected for life (Image: Supplied)

Lucy Humphrey (left) and Katie James (right) have become fast friends

A special connection forever

For Ms James, the operation made no difference to her life. For Ms Humphrey, her life has been transformed. And the pair now keep in close contact, with Ms Humphrey often sending photos of her and Indie’s travels round the country.

“As you speak to me I’m in my campervan at the moment travelling round Wales.” Said Ms Humphrey. “I cannot thank Katie or Indie enough.”