TWO childhood friends who say they are as close as sisters have cemented their 45-year bond with a kidney transplant.

Rodelle Kirk did not hesitate after her friend Maureen Graham’s husband David posted a plea for help on Facebook to find a live donor for his wife.

Ms Graham, 59, had waited nine years for her first kidney transplant, which failed a few years ago, and Ms Kirk, also 59, did not want her to face the same ordeal.

Miraculously, Ms Kirk, who is known as Del, was a perfect match for her friend even though only one in four of the population would have been suitable because she had developed very high levels of antibodies.

The emotionally charged moment the friends see each other for the first time after the surgery is captured on the final episode of the BBC series, Glasgow’s Superhospital, which charts the experiences of staff at patients at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

Ms Kirk said: “We’ve been friends through thick and thin and for me to able to do this for Mo, well it’s confirmation of how dearly I love her.”

Ms Graham, who is from Balloch and is retired, has suffered from kidney disease for 29 years after being diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease at the age of 19.

She had her first kidney transplant at the age of 40, which lasted eight years before it began to fail and has spent 11 years in total on dialysis, laterly at her home.

Mrs Graham said: “Del’s like a sister to me. We’ve always been like that. I try not to get emotional about it but sometimes the enormity of it washes over me. There are no words. She’s my hero, I cannot be more grateful.

“What you are doing is existing (on dialysis). It’s not a life.

“I’ve not been this well for 20 years. I’d forgotten how this feels.

“Golf is my passion and I’m now back hitting shots.”

Ms Kirk, who lives in Dumfries, is now fully recovered after the surgery in November last year and is looking forward to helping Ms Graham celebrate her 60th birthday on May 17.

She said: “For me to be a match was just incredible.

“If anyone was going to do it, I’d rather it was me.

“Maureen didn’t want to put me through this. Her husband Dave put something on Facebook for her friends explaining Mo’s situation and if whether anyone would consider putting themselves forward.

“That’s what spurred me on. It was something I always hoped I would be able to do. This is the start of a new life for her.”

The renal unit at the QEUH cares for more than 600 patients every year who are on kidney dialysis.

With more than 5,000 people on the UK transplant list and only 36 per cent signed up to donate, patients can face considerable waits.

Ms Graham has signed a petition calling on the Scottish Government to switch to an opt-out transplant system, where individuals are assumed to be donors unless they have registered an objection.

Ms Kirk was warned by transplant surgeon David Kingsmore about the risks of donating a kidney and told her system would take a “hard knock”.

He said: “I’ve got a lot of admiration for people who do this.

“It’s vastly more stressful to do a live transplant than any other kind.

“Someone has put their life on the line to give them that opportunity.

“Life on dialysis is brutal, absolutely brutal. You can’t live on dialysis for ever and the only way you can get away from that is with a transplant.”

The final episode of Scotland’s Superhospital airs tonight (Monday, May 8) at 9pm on BBC1 Scotland.