In 2006 whilst on holiday I was diagnosed with kidney failure. I was 24 years old and whilst I had been having some unusual symptoms over the past 6-12 months, never did I think I would be told that I had a chronic kidney disease that had caused me to lose 80% of my kidney function.
Over the following 6 years I learned to manage my CKD with medications, regular hospital visits and lifestyle changes. I wasn’t 100% but I lived my life as fully as possible. In early 2014 I contracted food poisoning in the form of campylobacter and me being me I worked through it brushing it off as nothing too serious.
I didn’t realise at the time but that bout of food poisoning was enough to effectively kill off the little kidney function I had left. Throughout 2014 we knew really that there was no way back without a transplant.
I was very fortunate to have family and friends who volunteered to give their kidneys and most of whom were also a good tissue match for me. In April 2015 my mum and I underwent surgery for her to give me one of her kidneys. A truly amazing gift that I could never have asked for but will be forever grateful for.
After a rocky start my kidney is now working well and so 12 months on from my transplant I decided I wanted a challenge and I wanted to give back to those who helped me and to try and help others going through the same situation as me. Being inspired by my father, who in lieu of being able to donate a kidney decided to raise £30,000 last year by cycling from London to Paris, I decided to join the Kidneys for Life group who were cycling the 330 miles from Dover to Amsterdam.
I began my training in Spring and tried to fit in sessions where and when I could. Feeling nervous but excited we set off for Dover on the 31 August this year.
The group were amazing. We had such a good time, everyone helped each other through the tough parts, of which there were quite a few. We buoyed each other up with chats and singing and all sorts of games. Honestly, I struggled. The ride was tough enough but a chest infection on top didn’t help matters. I tried my hardest and after raising almost £6,000 in sponsorship I really didn’t want to let anybody down.
The countryside and route that we travelled made the whole ordeal so much more pleasant and when you were on a good run with energy in your legs it was one of the biggest highs I can imagine but when the energy is depleted, you’re tired and sore and just want the day’s ride to be over it was very tough. Had it not been for the team of riders, comprising of surgeons and doctors in the world of kidneys, other kidney patients and the wonderful friends and families of those people who also put themselves through it, I honestly don’t know what I would have done.
The feeling of arriving safely into Amsterdam and celebrating with those guys was just electric. I’ve never felt anything like it and the fact that I was able to do that thanks to those people, and in particular my surgeon, Afshin Tavakoli, who was there with me every step of the way is something I could never put into words. I truly feel so happy and thankful to be alive and well enough to undertake such a challenge and to have met some of the most incredible people as a result.