‘If my sister’s kidney fails I won’t donate one of mine’

Shortly after she gave the children up for the last time, she was rediagnosed with bipolar disorder (in most respects it is what people mean by manic depression); although her new medication has helped to some extent, she’ll always be more volatile and fragile than most.

But she doesn’t make much effort to help herself either.

She only has one lung and was told smoking would kill her – yet she’s smoked a pack a day since her late teens.

She knows that she should avoid alcohol because of her kidneys, but frequently binges, sometimes putting herself in hospital.

I don’t know if she’s still taking drugs – I hope not – but it’s not something I like to ask.

Yet despite all this, I love her desperately. I’d do anything in my power to make her better. But if I were to give her a new kidney, I’d only be treating a symptom, not the cause.

Like George Best, who was given a new shot at life with a donated liver and wrecked that too with drink, my sister can’t – or won’t – change her behaviour.

I’m now a novelist and have three young children of my own to consider.

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