December 19 2014 Latest news:
Alex Hurrell, Reporter
Thursday, April 10, 2014
A North Walsham kidney patient whose life is dominated by three-times-a-week hospital visits, is hoping his plight will help others avoid the same fate.
Paul Welsh has had two kidney transplants - including one from his wife - which both failed, and now has to spend 12 hours each week undergoing dialysis at Cromer Hospital.
His condition makes it very difficult to enjoy a normal social life, holidays and hobbies. His diet is also very restricted, he often feels “rough”, before and straight after dialysis, and suffers from aching bones.
Mr Welsh, 51, of Honeysuckle Close, North Walsham, is now appealing to the “missing million” who may be unaware that they too have kidney disease - which could be treated successfully if caught early.
“They should go and get themselves checked by their GP,” he said. “No-one wants to end up like me. It’s no fun.”
Mr Welsh and his wife Mandy have also urged more people to sign the NHS’s organ donor register, to help the 6,000-plus kidney patients hoping for a transplant - some 350 of whom die every year while waiting.
Kidney Research UK is running a campaign across East Anglia this month to find the estimated one million people who may not realise that they have chronic kidney disease (CKD), often called the “silent killer” because it can be difficult to spot the symptoms.
Cases of kidney failure in the UK are rising by 4pc a year. Those most at risk are people with diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease.
Dad-of-two Mr Welsh, who works as a motor mechanic, first had problems as a boy when an undiagnosed internal blockage caused irreversible damage to his kidneys, which gradually deteriorated.
In 1997 he was given a transplant which allowed him to enjoy a normal life, including his hobbies of fishing, golf, and remote-controlled models, until it failed after five years.
Then, in 2008, Mrs Welsh donated one of her kidneys, but, sadly, his body rejected it after about 18 months.
The couple has no regrets however. “It was a no-brainer and I’d do it again if I could.” said Mrs Welsh, 47, who works as a teaching assistant at North Walsham’s Manor Road Junior School.
“We would have kicked ourselves if we hadn’t tried - it might have worked. You do whatever you can and when it didn’t work we picked ourselves up and carried on - there’s no other choice.” She appealed to anyone reluctant to join the donor register to imagine that either they or a loved one needed a transplant.
“I think they would be glad to accept an organ from someone else, so they ought to register themselves,” she said.
■ To check your kidney health visit www.missingmillion.co.uk To register as an organ donor visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk or ring the organ donor line on 0300 123 23 23