I had never realised how important something as small as a kidney could be, until my grandpa suffered without his. Your kidneys are positioned against the back muscles of your abdomen. Usually kidneys are about the size of a fist. Some people are born with one, some people are born with three, but usually we are born with two. It is possible to live a healthy life with one kidney, which is why people donate their other. The main job of a kidney is to cleanse the blood of toxins and turn waste into urine. The kidney is a vital organ in your body that you must have to survive.
When a kidney stops working, harmful toxins and fluids can build up in the body, which can cause the kidney to fail. This is measured via how quickly the kidneys are cleaning the blood in millilitres per minute. There are five stages, starting from healthy kidneys to minor damage, followed by mild damage, moderate decrease, severe decrease and renal failure. If Chronic Kidney Disease, sometimes named ‘the silent killer’, is caught early, with medication and a lifestyle change, it can reverse it but not always. If it progresses to stage four, ‘severe decrease’, the person would usually prepare themselves for dialysis or finding a donor. There are two forms of dialysis both of which do the job that the person’s kidneys are failing to do. Over 3 million people face chronic kidney disease in the UK today and it is still rising. An estimated amount of 13,000 people are killed by chronic kidney disease every year in this country alone. Kidney disease is often found accidently when the doctor is carrying out tests to investigate something else. Too often we take our kidneys for granted, assuming they are indestructible, as they work quietly into the background. Before researching, I did not know where they were in the body, let alone their purpose. A few simple medical checks can lead to an early diagnosis of potential kidney problems.
To have a look at any potential signs of kidney disease, take a look at: https://www.kidneyresearchuk.org/health-information/chronic-kidney-disease
It is possible to live a ‘normal’ life if your kidneys fail, with the help of a donor. A donor is someone, after numerous tests, matches up with the patient and can donate one of their organs to them. This would usually improve the help of the patient taking away any failing organs or disease as they will have a new healthy organ, in this case a kidney. It usually tends to be a loved one or a relative who donates to the patient but strangers do it to. It isn’t all positive as sometimes there isn’t always a match and sometimes the body can reject the new organ, but you will never know unless you try. Donations are a voluntarily process and no one should be forced into it. All potential donors can pull out up until the first day of surgery. If you were ever to do this, you should never feel guilty, it would be a massive part in your life. Sadly, there are not a lot of donors out there to help the people who do have the ‘silent killer’. Giving someone a kidney or any organ would be such an amazing thing to do. Giving someone the opportunity to be taken off dialysis and live a normal life. There are a lot of tests, questions and meetings that you must attend before coming a donor so nothing is set in stone straight away.
Would you ever think about becoming a donor? There are risks and benefits from being a donor and all you need to know at:
My Grandpa has had a lot of problems with his kidneys, throughout his life and ever since I can remember. He has been on dialysis for numerous years, attached to a machine which does the job his failing kidneys are supposed to do. This caused him a lot of discomfort and bruising up and down his arms. He had to sit attached to this machine for over four hours, three or four times a week. The dialysis was taking over his life, not allowing him to live his life, go on holiday, enjoy himself… He even had to plan dialysis around my father’s wedding. The days around dialysis he would be in pain or be very tired and before he knew it, he would be back on the machine again. He hated it, but it made him better. For an elderly man, it isn’t fair for him to be in this much pain and discomfort when he should be enjoying his life with his growing family.
My Grandpa, unlike many others, was very lucky. He was told he could have a kidney transplant. After a first lot of tests, my Grandpa had found his potential donor, his son, my Father. Both my Grandpa and my Father had to undergo many tests, x-rays, meetings to get to where we are today. After all the awful tests and paperwork, we finally got a date. On the weekend of the third of November, my dad did one of the bravest things I have ever witnessed. He gave my Grandpa one of his kidneys ‘The giving part of oneself for the benefit of another has to be considered one of the most selfless and wonderful acts of human nature’. My Father was determined to do this for his Father. My Father went into hospital on Thursday night, ready for the removal of his kidney early Friday morning. The wait whilst my Father was in surgery was antagonising, only to increase further when my Grandpa went in about 2pm. The long wait went on, trying not to think of any complications during the transplant, praying that they would both be ok. It must have been hard for all the family, the long wait to see if my Grandpa could get his life back.
I went to see them both on Saturday 5th November and they were both surprisingly well. My Grandpa looked better than he had done in a long while and my Dad even managed to take a walk around the ward. This truly was an amazing recovery just a DAY after surgery. It was amazing to see how happy and grateful my Grandpa was, my Dad had given him his life back.
My Dad was discharged the following Monday a small THREE days after the major operation. My Grandpa following him on the Wednesday. I am so proud of how well both have done and I am so happy that my Grandpa can now go on a long-awaited holiday with my Nan. I couldn’t be prouder of my Dad, giving my Grandpa something he wanted the most. It is the most selfless, kind, caring thing a man can do.
You do not have to donate a kidney to save a life. Small money donations can also help too. The Kidney Research Charity is funded via voluntarily donations. With these donations, they have created ground-breaking research which is an amazing break-through for kidney patients. The donations can fund this research and save lives. 60,000 people are alive today because of the advances in research. Kidney patients can get a chance at a ‘new life’. My Father and his wife donated a large chunk of money at their wedding towards this cause, to get a badge for their guests, even after everything my Father has done. Donate anything you can! It doesn’t matter how big or little as every penny counts!
There are also many other ways you can get involved: fundraisers, volunteering, taking part in events, donations or even getting involved in the research. Do something to help the 3 million people who face the disease. Make people aware!
Thank you for taking the time to read such an amazing story of my Grandad and my Dad. I couldn’t be prouder of both of them and they are both well and happy. A lot of the facts and information were taken from www.kidneyresearchuk.org. Please feel free to like, comment and share!