Kathryn CrokerTransplant Patient
I was diagnosed with Henoch Schonlein Purpura (HSP) after a rash appeared on my legs in September 1998 aged 12. HSP affected my whole body particularly my stomach and joints – I couldn’t walk for months and was bed bound. I lost lots of weight and went down to 5 stone. I was very sick and in January 1999 I was rushed to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London with complete kidney failure. I was pumped with lots of toxic drugs, had 10 lots of plasma exchange as well as dialysis. I dialysed and had plasma exchange through a tube placed in my groin which wasn’t very pleasant at all. Due to being so poorly I was booked into theatre to have a more permanent access for dialysis put in so that I could continue to have dialysis 3 times a week. However, through the amazing work and dedication of the doctors and nurses, they managed to get my kidneys working back up to around 40%. They were amazed, as were we.
I had regular trips down to London to see the doctors to check how I was doing and sadly had to be referred back up to my local hospital when I was 17. I missed the whole of year 8 due to this but went on to complete my GCSEs, A levels and go on to University in Sheffield where I completed a degree in Early Childhood studies. I loved being at uni and tried to get on with life as normal although this was hard at times due to my kidneys not working properly and needing a lot of sleep and a couple of times my Dad had to drive up to bring me home when I wasn’t well. I went on to work full time in a Sure Start Children’s Centre in April 2008, working there for 9 years and I now work in retail.
A Big Decision
My kidney function was gradually coming down over these years and I had to massively cut back my hours at the children’s centre as I couldn’t cope at all and missed out on so much socially. In April 2012 my Mum, Dad and I went to Leicester General Hospital and both my Mum and Dad were tested to see if they were a match to be able to donate to me. The results came back that they were both an equal match to me so we had the hard decision of deciding who was going to go through all the testing with the view to donating to me. After much talking (it was an unbelievably hard decision to make) my Dad really wanted to go ahead with this.
For the next year he went through numerous tests to ensure that he was fit and healthy to donate to me. I had to begin emergency dialysis in February 2013 as my kidney function went down to 4% and my Dad was still going through all of the tests. After a tough year of lots of tests my Dad got the go ahead to be a donor in April 2013 and I received his kidney on 9th May 2013. This day was the hardest day of my life and I’m sure my Mum, Dad and my partner, now husband Luke, would say the same.
My Dad went down for surgery at around 8am and the wait for the surgeon – Professor Mike Nicholson – to come up and tell us that he was ok was just awful. Dad always jokes that things took a bit longer because he thought they were after his wallet!! I went down for surgery at 2pm and although I had a bit of a scare the next day (I had to go back to theatre due to a bleed near the kidney and consequently ended up in intensive care) we both made a good recovery. My Dad was in hospital for 5 days and I was in for 9 days (the 2nd op set me back a day or two).
Return To Work
I was able to return to work in October 2013 and gradually increased my hours which was wonderful. Luke and I got engaged in Venice in June 2016 and got married in August 2017. As you can imagine it was a very emotional day….particularly the ‘Father of the Bride’ speech. Before the transplant I didn’t actually realise how poorly I had become and was quite stubborn about the whole thing. I would always say I was fine but I would get out of breath just sitting on the floor drying my hair or going for a walk which now seems crazy! I’m able to enjoy life to the full now and enjoy a fab social life and have met so many amazing and inspiring people throughout my transplant journey, some of whom I’m so lucky to call friends.
I’m also a volunteer for Kidney Research UK, a charity that is so close to mine and my family’s hearts. The charity do an amazing job for kidney patients and their families and fund vital research projects as well as really encouraging patient involvement. I raise awareness and funds for the charity by holding stalls at local fetes and community events, talks within the local community as well as radio and TV interviews. I’m also part of the ‘Share Your Wishes’ team and we raise awareness of organ donation and the need for people to talk to their families about their organ donation decision. We love to share people’s stories on our social media channels and these come from organ transplant recipients, those waiting for a transplant, donor families, living donors and all those affected by organ donation.
My fathers courageous act (he doesn’t even like having a blood test!) has enabled me to go on and live my life, it is truly amazing the difference it has made.
Share Your Story
Hope you enjoyed Kathryn’s amazing story. If you are a kidney patient, carer or family member, then Kidney Club would love to add your story. You can share your story just in text, or with a picture it’s up to you. Also add a video if you like talking about what it’s like to be a kidney patient. But text and photo is just fine if not. Stories help patients, the media and everyone understand more of what they go through. Stay healthy and lets get share these amazing kidney stories.