Healthy Body

Living with kidney disease

This is something which I have put off writing about for a very long time. However, as Thursday saw both the celebration of World Kidney Day and the opening of a new Trinity Health Kidney Centre in Tallaght and St. James’ hospital, I thought it was probably an appropriate time to address an affliction which is estimated to affect 5-7% of the world’s population, or 500 million people, according to Kidney Alliance.

Almost exactly a year ago, I was admitted to A and E with what was diagnosed as severe urosepsis, and was kept in hospital for two weeks, having to have very complex surgery to remove a blockage in my kidney which I have had since birth, but which luckily never once bothered me prior to my 20th birthday.

Two days after another extremely brief surgery to remove a plastic stent inserted during the original surgery, I flew to the US, determined not to miss out on a J1 I had booked a month before I discovered I had any significant health problems. A month into being there, I again had to be admitted to the emergency room with another severe kidney infection. Since I have arrived home, I have been placed on two three-month courses of powerful antibiotics. Last week, I was given the official date of my next surgery if it is to go ahead, which will remove the offending kidney for good.

Thankfully, I do not require dialysis as many other renal patients do, but just like the other estimated 280,000 people in Ireland suffering from reduced kidney function, I experience daily nausea, exhaustion, loss of appetite and kidney pain along with migraines and dizziness caused by my constant intake of antibiotics. I have had to miss a lot of college and cannot commit to any social event as I need a lot of rest and some days will wake up and feel too sick to leave my bed. And for people unlucky enough to have problems with both of their kidneys, their daily reality must be far worse than mine.

However, the opening of Trinity Health Kidney Centre offers a huge step in the right direction for those suffering from kidney disease, using a grant in excess of 1 million euro to ‘combine clinical expertise, excellence in undergraduate and postgraduate medical education and cutting edge research into kidney disease.’

When I got in contact with Professor Mark Little, the director of the project, he said that the centre still needs help with fundraising and volunteers to help get the centre established administratively. I am in the process of seeing if it’s possible to donate my kidney for research at the centre, but there is so much you can do to help combat kidney disease, something even as effort-less of carrying a donor card, or donating a few euro to the Irish Kidney Association. There are people far less fortunate than me waiting on kidney transplants, with their lives dedicated to constant trips to the hospital for dialysis; who you have the power to help.

I think that it was five euro well spent.