A children's author celebrates the launch of Rainbow Dust, a unicorn story she wrote whilst recovering from a life-saving kidney transplant 23 years ago

SJ Dawson, author of Rainbow Dust, with illustrator Becky Stout
SJ Dawson, author of Rainbow Dust, with illustrator Becky Stout
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A woman who wrote a children’s story whilst recovering from a life-saving kidney transplant has finally had her book published after more than 20 years.

When faced with just three months to live unless she took her mother’s kidney, Samantha Dawson underwent a live donor transplant in 1995, aged 26

SJ Dawson, author of Rainbow Dust

SJ Dawson, author of Rainbow Dust

The following year, she created her own children’s story about a unicorn living in the clouds. Now aged 50, she brought the tale back to life and launched her first children’s book - Rainbow Dust - at an event at Methodist Church Hall, Poulton, at the weekend. Following its success, she is preparing for a follow up launch at Toyland, Blackpool, on Saturday, August 10.

Samantha, of Poulton, described the moment she was diagnosed with renal failure, aged 22.
She explained: “I was living in Tenerife, working at bars, in 1991, when I began to feel ill. I had blood tests which revealed I was badly anaemic and there was something wrong with my kidney. The doctor advised me to go back to the UK to get tested so I flew home, which at the time was in Preston. A consultant told me my kidney had failed and was already renal failure.

“I was put on CAPD dialysis, which uses manual bags containing peritoneal dialysis fluid. I had this every four to six hours. It restricted how far I could go, so I had to work part time from home.
“I was on that for three-and-a-half years but as the dialysis started to fail, I was spending more time in hospital.
“My mum, Helen Wright (now Jennings), offered me her kidney but I refused as I felt guilty that she should have to go through the operation for me.
“But a nurse convinced me I was being selfish and said if I didn’t have the transplant, I would have three months left to live.”

Samantha had the live donor transplant in January 1995, but following complications, the kidney only functions at 30 per cent.
As a result, she was only able to work part time due to ill health.
Several months after her transplant, she took a writing course and penned her first story about a young girl Jessica who was lifted to a world in the clouds, accompanied by a unicorn called Lucy.

The young winners of a colouring competition to mark the launch of SJ Dawson's Rainbow Dust

The young winners of a colouring competition to mark the launch of SJ Dawson's Rainbow Dust

Samantha added: “I have always loved clouds and as I was flying home from Tenerife I looked at the clouds and thought they looked like a different world, so I thought I could write a story about it.”
As her kidney function had dropped even further, to 15 per cent, Samantha’s doctor advised her that she could no longer work.

Looking to feel more valued and to keep herself occupied, she went back to her writing and decided to get her story - Rainbow Dust - published, using the pen name SJ Dawson.
She got in touch with Purple Parrot Publishing (PPP), set up by fellow Fylde resident Viv Ainslie, who helped her find an illustrator, Becky Stout.

Samantha has been busy attending readings at schools in the Fylde area and has a charity launch at Toyland, in Church Street, on Saturday, August 10, from 11am to raise awareness of Lancashire and South Cumbria Kidney Patients Association and Brian House Children’s Hospice, in Blackpool.

The book is available via Waterstones, WH Smith online and Amazon: www.amazon.co.uk/Rainbow-Dust-SJ-Dawson/