In 1998, on Mother’s Day, I was out having dinner with my family. Throughout the night on several occasions, my mother prodded my legs, mentioning they appeared swollen. She told me sternly “It looks like you have fluid build-up, make an appointment to see your GP ASAP”.
I went to the GP the following day and had my blood taken. I was told I would need to go to St. Mary’s Hospital to have more blood done there.
A day later, I received a call from the hospital. I was told that my kidneys had failed and that I needed dialysis straight away. Within the space of just over a week, I was diagnosed with kidney failure and started to receive regular dialysis.
In 1999, I was experiencing prolonged excruciating migraines and I was diagnosed with hypertension. Lengthy investigations, coupled with numerous hospital admissions followed. At this point, I was offered the option of having a nephrectomy (the removal of both kidneys), as it was thought that my damaged kidneys were causing the hypertension.
I had the nephrectomy that year and continued haemodialysis with no kidneys until 2003 when I received a Cadaveric Kidney transplant (a transplant from a deceased kidney donor).
I was so grateful and fortunate for the eight years that I lived with my donated kidney, however, in 2011 I was told the devastating news that the transplanted kidney was failing, and I would need to start another journey of dialysis, this was in January 2012. The hope was that I would receive a second kidney transplant soon.
In 2013 the transplanted kidney was causing so much concern, that it was I underwent surgery to have it removed and again, I continued to receive dialysis without any kidneys, whilst waiting for another kidney transplant.
I’ve been waiting for a second kidney transplant since 2012. Ten years of dialysis has taken its toll on my body, and I am now at a stage where I have limited access to another line, resulting in dialysis becoming extremely challenging and excruciatingly painful.
No one told me all those years ago how kidney failure would affect my life, instead, I’ve learnt as I’ve gone along. It’s been hard, but I’m a fighter and now I’m fighting the next stage in my health battle by sharing my story with you, hoping someone will want to become a living donor, to help save my life.
‘Donate my kidney to a stranger?’ I can hear you saying this to yourself as you listen to my story… I know. I get it. However, over the last five years, 147 strangers who were Black in the UK became living kidney donors. I’m praying for someone just like one of the 81 selfless lifesavers, sees my message and wants to also give the gift of life to someone like me, who now urgently needs it.
To find out more on how you could become my lifesaving donor, please contact my Organ Donation administrator at Hammersmith Hospital on 0203 313 5349.
Please also share my story. You never know, you might be the reason my story is seen by my potential lifesaver.
Donna St. Paul