Desborough woman becomes Kidney Research ambassador
She's sharing her story ahead of World Kidney Day on Thursday (March 11)
A Desborough woman who received a kidney transplant from her dad hopes to help local people after becoming a research charity ambassador.
Kathryn Croker, 35, is a community ambassador for Kidney Research UK which researches how to prevent, treat and manage diseases in the organ.
And she has shared her story ahead of World Kidney Day on March 11 (Thursday) to raise awareness of the importance of research to make life better for people living with kidney disease.
Kathryn decided to get involved as she was diagnosed with Henoch Schonlein Purpura (HSP) aged 12 which caused her kidneys to fail. Kathryn received a kidney from her dad Kevin nearly eight years ago.
She said: “I have seen first-hand how kidney disease can impact people’s lives.
"I am now giving something back to the charity that is close to my heart by being a community ambassador for Kidney Research UK - and am calling for local groups to get in touch to support our cause.”
Three million people in the UK suffer from kidney disease and a third of those don’t even know they have it.
Kathryn is part of a team of volunteer community ambassadors across the UK who are ready to support groups and individuals raising money and awareness for Kidney Research UK on World Kidney Day - and beyond.
She shared her story below:
"I was diagnosed with Henoch Schonlein Purpura, a disease where small blood vessels called capillaries become inflamed and damaged, producing a rash on the skin called ’purpura’, in September 1998 aged 12. Although mild at first, my symptoms got progressively worse, resulting in me being unable to walk due to chronic pain among many other symptoms.
"In January 1999 aged 13 I was rushed to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London as my kidneys had failed. This resulted in me needing 10 sessions of plasma exchange as well as dialysis and lots of different medications. Amazingly, thanks to the wonderful work of the doctors and nurses, I left hospital with around 40 per cent kidney function.
"Even the doctors were astonished at how well I had recovered as I was due to carry on receiving dialysis three times a week. However, my parents were told that I would need a transplant in around 14 years time. Unfortunately I missed the whole of Year 8 at school due to this but was able to continue into Year 9 and finished school completing my GCSEs, A-Levels and going on to study at university in Sheffield with my main symptom being tiredness.
"As the years went on my kidney function slowly declined and the symptoms got worse and in 2012 my parents were tested to be potential donors. I was very lucky as both were a match and my dad went through a series of tests over the next year to see if he was able to donate to me. I ended up needing to go onto emergency dialysis in February 2013 as my kidney function had declined to four per cent and in May 2013 my dad donated his kidney to me at Leicester General Hospital.
"His generosity and selflessness has changed my life. I am now able to live my life without getting out of breath, without being swollen, without having to follow a special diet, without having to restrict my fluid intake, without horrendous tiredness amongst other symptoms and I’m free of a dialysis machine. I take medication every 12 hours which lowers my
immune system to help to stop my kidney rejecting.
"However, this has meant that this past year I have been shielding due to the pandemic, only leaving the house to go for walks. This has been hard but when you have received the gift of life you will do anything to protect it."