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My kidney heroines – where do I start?  by Sarah Harwood - Patient Involvement Co-ordinator

22 February 2018

This World Kidney Day, Kidney Research UK is celebrating all the women and girls who are fighting kidney disease in their own way. We are getting people to post the stories of their kidney heroines (#mykidneyheroine).

So I wanted to share mine.

Sarah Harwood
Sarah Harwood

Turns out that it is not as easy as you think to pick! I have been extremely lucky in my life to be surrounded by so many amazing women. My heroines are the ones who have helped me fight through the adversity and have been there to celebrate the joys!

From friends and family who have helped me battle through all my kidney disease setbacks: my school friends who stayed up all night waiting to hear if my transplant was successful, my Uni friends who celebrated my first kidney-versary, and second… and third… and fourth…   To my housemates, currently preparing for my 11th kidney-versary superhero-themed party, in honour of my donor and my sister-in-law to be (who will officially become part of my family this December), who is the sister I have always wanted, who has seen me at my worst and still continues to love me.

My brother and my Dad, who are both my heroes, with too many stories to share in this one post.

To the amazing nurses, doctors and NHS staff, who have gone above and beyond in caring for me, even when there were times it was possible that I might not make it.

To the wonderful women I work with, who dedicate their time to making lives free from kidney disease. To the researchers and clinicians, who use their knowledge and understanding to find better treatments and cures for kidney disease.

And finally, to the amazing patients and family members I have met, who face the worst of kidney disease, and still come through with positivity and the will to do something to make a difference to people’s lives.

There are a hundred women I could name on here, that are heroines by just getting up and living their lives. There are two people, however, to whom I owe everything.

I could not write about my kidney heroines without mentioning the person who is responsible for me being here today. My donor. I don’t know her name, who she was or what she was like. All I know, is that she was a young girl. Her family made an incredible decision, at a devastating moment when they were losing their daughter, to donate her organs. I was lucky enough to receive her kidney, and this saved my life. It changed my life. I was ready to give up. I couldn’t cope with my treatment, and I couldn’t see what my life could be. She gave me hope. She gave me a second chance at life, and the courage to live it.

Now I can only try to honour that gift, from a true heroine.

Without a shadow of a doubt, my greatest heroine throughout my whole life – the highs and lows, and my personal battles with kidney disease and everything else – has been my mum. She has never wavered in supporting me and being there for me, even when I tried to push her away. Through facing her own fears of being in hospital and seeing me with my blood being pumped around multiple machines, feeling completely powerless to help. She never left my side. She fought my battles for me when I was ready to give up. Without her I would not be here today, having the privilege to work alongside amazing people, doing work I believe makes a real difference to patient’s lives.

A heroine is defined as a woman who is admired for her courage, outstanding achievements, noble qualities and even superhuman abilities. My mum is the epitome of this and I can only aspire to be like her.

Who are your kidney heroine? If you know heroines like Sarah who deserve a shout out, why not take part in our World Kidney Day campaign and celebrate their achievements. 

Sarah Harwood with her mum, Jackie
Sarah Harwood with her mum, Jackie
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