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Children’s nurse makes face masks using her young daughter’s sewing machine after watching a You Tube video!

21 August 2020

A children’s nurse living with kidney disease who had never taken up sewing before, has raised money for Kidney Research UK by making face masks, after being inspired by a You Tube video. 

Louise Carten dug out her eight-year-old daughter’s sewing machine and made her first mask for her husband when it became compulsory to wear them in shops. 

Louise Carten
Louise's friends wearing her cartoon character masks

Neo-natal unit nurse, Louise, who is shielding due to having polycystic kidney disease (PKD), has since made more than 500 masks and raised in excess of £250 for Kidney Research UK by selling them on her Facebook page to family, friends and work colleagues. 

I had a pair of old scrubs so used that as my fabric. I’m not a seamstress and used my daughter Amy’s sewing machine which is a child’s model. The first one took me half an hour. Now it takes me about three minutes,” she said. 

I put a few on Facebook for my friends and it just snowballed, “said 40-year-old Louise who has sold 540 masks and donated £260 to Kidney Research UK. 

From cutting up her scrubs, Louise, who lives in Troon, near Glasgow, now orders her fabric online and has discovered that people have shifted from wanting plain colours to bright, colourful patterns. 

“People are loving the bright masks and cartoon characters. They now want masks to match outfits! I’ve even ordered Christmas fabric ready for the festive season!” she said. 

Louise’s mum and gran were dab hands at sewing, but she said she has never taken any interest before. “I am not a seamstress, so it has been a learning curve! 

Louise Carten
Louise and her daughter Amy.

Louise was diagnosed with PKD in 2005 when she was 25 and in 2015 had a transplant from her mum, just in time before she needed dialysis. 

Mum was a perfect match. I am so thankful to her for being my donor. The transplant took place in Glasgow. I had a slight problem at the time as I had a blood clot around the kidney so had to go back to theatre. Five months later I was back at work. Two years later it was feared the kidney was being rejected but thankfully medications sorted it out. 

My function is now 35 per cent. It was at 8 per cent. It is mixed emotions after my transplant because I still have PKD and I still get infections and bleeding cysts. Everyone assumes kidney patients are fixed after a transplant, but it is not necessarily the end of the journey for many people. 

I take numerous medications twice a day, and will for the rest of my life, so my health is very much controlled by medications and blood tests. 

I am used to this new normal and am grateful I didn’t have to go on dialysis. I feel very lucky about that. 

A paediatric nurse, Louise switched to working in the neo-natal unit after her kidney transplant as there is less risk of infection for her. It is a job she says she is missing very much since lockdown. 

She is currently working remotely for the local Track and Trace Covid-19 team, but can’t wait to get back to the job she loves. 

Sharon Sheridan, Fundraising Manager for Scotland at Kidney Research UK, said: “We love Louise’s story about making face masks to raise money for Kidney Research UK, especially as she wasn’t a seamstress before lockdown. Understandably she’s not able to take orders en masse, but I wonder whether other supporters may be inspired to take up needle and thread?

“Three million people in the UK have kidney disease but one million of them don’t even know they have it. There is no cure, and for people with kidney failure the only way to stay alive is dialysis or transplant. 

Louise’s donation will help fund vital research to develop better treatments for people affected by kidney disease and, ultimately, cures. Thanks Louise!” 

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