GENERATION AGELESS

Dr Gill Owens, 52, is a principle lecturer in the Business School at Teesside University. Last year she represented the UK in the World Transplant Games after she became an altruistic kidney donor.
Dr Gill Owens

We’re talking to people with a positive attitude to  mid-life, doing things differently, changing their pace of life, their priorities, reflecting on what’s gone before and the new opportunities and challenges to come .

I used to do this…

All things business – from leaving school until my first ‘retirement’, aged 38.

Now life is about…

Doing a job I love. I decided to do a degree for fun and am now a chartered psychologist holding a Principal Lecturer post in the Business School at Teesside University and I cannot imagine doing anything else.

I love having a positive impact on the students’ lives and not just imparting my academic knowledge and sharing business experience but helping them to develop a sense of humanity. We’re only on the planet for a short space of time, we need to be kind to it and all who share it.

Why/how I made a change…

The biggest change I have made is donating a kidney to a stranger in March 2015. My late sister-in-law Anita received a kidney from her husband, my brother.

I saw the difference that made to her life. We got our old Anita back for ten years before a non-kidney related cancer took her. I just wanted to do the same thing for somebody and it didn’t matter at all that I didn’t know them, they were somebody else’s Anita.

I had a four-and-a-half-hour operation to remove my left kidney and it was taken by courier to Liverpool and transplanted into somebody who had been on dialysis for ten years.

After a series of anonymous letters sent via our transplant coordinators we agreed to meet. Rose has six children and nine grandchildren but none of them were a match so she was incredibly grateful. We will be friends forever and my left kidney has definitely been on more holidays in the last three years than my right kidney. There are too many people waiting on a kidney in the UK (around 3.5k on the waiting list), I just wanted to make a difference and I did.

Family is all about…

Love, kindness, fun and laughter. I lead an incredibly busy life and my family suffers because of my commitment to my job and the students but the only way I can do what I do is because of the support I receive from my family. I truly love them all.

I’m lucky I can…

Make a difference through my work; share good and bad times with friends and family; live a life knowing I am supported with my dreams and ambitions. I could go on and on, I have so much to be grateful for.

Transplant GamesI’ve got time for…

Positivity. I know it’s a cliché but we cannot change what has happened to us but we can choose how to react to it. I want to surround myself with people who are kind and show compassion. Stop with the negative rhetoric, it’s boring.

Things are different because…

I made them different, I took control and chose not to be the person that things happened to but the one who makes things happen. If you don’t like something change it or walk away. Times might be difficult but we are really, so very, very lucky compared to many others who share the planet.

A day in the life of me…

Up at 5:30 arriving at work at 7am. My day is made up of delivering lectures and seminars, holding one-to-one meetings with students, answering emails (so many emails!), meetings with a variety of colleagues about a variety of different things.

Home at 7pm. Evening meal with my husband, play with the dog, house related stuff, bath, bed. Repeat. It sounds average but no two days are the same, there is always something that takes the day in a different direction, I love that. Weekends are for sharing with wider family and friends; fresh air, nice food and a small beverage or two!

The people who are important…

Those who understand and don’t judge. People who support me and share my ambitions, those who wipe my tears when I am sad because I have heard about cruelty in the world. Anybody who can make me laugh until my sides hurt.

Work/life balance…

I struggle with this because I am so passionate about my job. I returned to work weeks after the donation because it was at a time when students were writing their dissertations and I know how stressful that is so I wanted to support my particular group of students. My family know that I am there for them if they need me, but they get me and understand that I need to be fulfilled at work, it’s what makes me the person I am.

I thrive on…

A new challenge. Last year I represented GB & NI at the World Transplant Games which was held in Malaga. It was the first time that donors had been allowed to compete so I chose the 100 meters sprint as I was a sprinter at school. I trained for an hour before work three times a week for seven months. It was hard but I was determined to do the country proud. The University paid for me to attend and I also got a huge amount of support from the sports team at the University, I will be eternally grateful.  I came home with a silver medal and wonderful memories of  making new friends and being welcomed into the Transplant Sport family.

Mid life means to me…

Being confident, far more than I ever was when I was younger. Yes I had less wrinkles then but really, who cares about that. I can’t take the credit for this quote but it sums up where I am now in life – “Just be kind and brave, that’s all you ever need to be”.

tees.ac.uk


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