A FORMER Calvin Klein model who suffered kidney failure after an operation has been handed the perfect Christmas present – a life-saving transplant from his big brother.
Justin House, from Broad Green, will receive a kidney from his brother Gavin, with his operation due on January 23 at London's Guys Hospital.
The 40-year-old suffered kidney failure in 2010 after taking painkilling drugs following an operation to remove a giant cell tumour from his spine.
A giant cell tumour is an exceptionally rare form of cancer that affects one in ten million people.
Justin, of Harry Close, told the Advertiser: "Right now I'm a prisoner. I have to go to Bromley three times a week for dialysis, otherwise I will die.
"Now we are literally weeks away from me receiving my kidney transplant from my brother. That is the date that my life is given back to me.
"I'm almost out of the woods, I'm almost there.
"It's a huge thing he's doing for me but he's doing it because he knows I'd do it for him."
Justin was preparing to have the transplant operation earlier this year, but it was stopped at the last minute – just days before his birthday – over fears his body would reject it.
In desperation he took to Facebook to appeal for a donor, but with no success.
Now, thanks to an experimental immune-suppressant drug from the US, Justin is able to have the surgery, though he admits the risk factor is high.
He said: "We're looking at a 40 per cent failure rate. That's scary, but I remind myself if it's a 40 per cent chance of failure then that's a 60 per cent chance of success.
"My surgeons keep telling me 'you must realise how lucky you are to be alive at all', but I will not permit myself to have anything other than a positive mindset."
Justin's ordeal started back in 2009 while he was training.
He explained: "I was in the gym and I felt a big bang in my spine, that's the only way I can describe it. I had a CT scan and an MRI scan which revealed a massive tumour.
"To remove it, it took three surgeons 14 hours. They removed the vertebrae with the cancer and two disks. Within the vertebrae was the tumour and it had actually burst out of the bone.
"What I felt in the gym that day was the vertebrae bursting. It was a real case of Humpty Dumpty fell down."
Having become the first-ever Fitness First personal trainer in 1992, and spent a lifetime modelling for the likes of Calvin Klein and competing in bodybuilding contests, Justin was instantly forced to give it all up.
He spent 104 days in hospital following his operation and lost all feeling from the waist down.
He was prescribed morphine and opiate painkillers for the pain which he took for nearly a year, but eventually he became dependent on them.
In an attempt to wean himself off the drugs he turned to over-the-counter paracetamol and ibuprofen, which was what eventually destroyed his kidneys.
As well as this he also suffered two bouts of pneumonia brought on by two collapsed lungs, and has had to have his lung stitched to his ribcage in order to stop it collapsing again.
Despite all this, Justin is determined to take positives from the experience.
"I was materialistic and got uptight about things that didn't matter," he admits.
"But I have learnt that the things that matter are your health and your family. I have a wonderful girl who is the love of my life, and I've got my mum and my brother who keep me going; that's what's important to me now."
"Whatever plan the universe has for me, I have been gifted my life back."