Podcast series shines magic spotlight on transplants and sport
The grandson of the late Paul Daniels is creating some magic of his own through a podcast looking at the lighter side of life and also delving into the struggles of people living with kidney disease.
Cricket fan Lewis Daniels, who is on his second innings thanks to a kidney transplant from his mum Jo, has interviewed a host of sporting guests for his podcast Transplants Take on Sport.
Through being frank and honest, sharing the dark, the hilarious and everything in between, Lewis hopes the podcast will help others going through diagnosis, dialysis and transplant.
Podcast for positivity
“Although I talk to guests from the world of transplant sport, I hope anyone can relate to it as it’s about overcoming obstacles to live a full and happy life,” he said.
“Hopefully it’s inspiring to anyone who has had their health or life compromised in any way.”
The biggest compliment for Lewis came when his dad Martin noticed guests saying, “this is the first time I’ve spoken about it”.
"Being on the podcast put them at ease and gave them the chance to open up for the first time about deeply personal things.
“It’s a trip through lessons learnt in life, kidney stuff, humour, all mixed in with other nonsense that might come up which hopefully is a safe space to chat.”
Growing up the son of a comedy magician and a professional dancer, and with famous TV magician grandparents, Lewis always had an interest in performing and quickly picked up the ropes of magic tricks passed down the generations.
Second chance at life
However, he could never have imagined his entertainment skills would lead him to hosting an organ donation podcast.
So far, he has produced 17 episodes. Guests include kidney transplant recipient and founder of the World Club Basketball Tournament, Eric Douglin.
Also England and Wales transplant cricketer, Scott Fairbrass; triathlete Hannah Owen who donated a kidney to her brother, Rhys; plus two-time kidney transplant recipient Tara Bashford who is a climber, mountaineer and runner.
“This is my second chance at life, and I want to give it my all,” Lewis said.
Everyone copes differently
“A podcast like this was something I’d have liked to have listened to leading up to transplant, to understand what was going to happen. It’s scary when you’re diagnosed.
"Recording it has been interesting to see how everyone copes. Some worry more than others, some appear fine on the surface but have wobbles behind the scenes. We all deal with it in our different ways.
“My way is humour and making light of dark situations. It’s a great coping mechanism for me but equally, when reality sets in, that can be tough too.”
Transplant from mum
Lewis says sport is his passion, especially cricket, and he worried how he would cope mentally if he could no longer get involved.
“As a keen sportsman, I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to continue doing what I love after transplant but finding the England and Wales Transplant Cricket Club gave me the motivation to one day be part of an inspirational team of players who are in their second innings thanks to the power of organ donation.
“Now part of the team, I’m looking forward to using the gift of life to continue playing cricket and compete in other events at the Transplant Games.”
Lewis had his kidney transplant in July 2019 and took a year out of study to recover.
When Covid hit he re-evaluated and decided to switch careers from studying physiotherapy at Liverpool University to becoming a primary school teacher. Training begins at Sheffield Hallam University in September.
A rapid kidney decline came out of the blue during his first year at Liverpool University.
Healthy eating is key
It was then just over a year from diagnosis to transplant. Lewis firmly believes he staved off dialysis thanks to a strict eating regime.
“The final weeks before transplant my kidney function was at 8% so I followed a low protein diet to reduce the amount of protein going through my kidneys. It was important to not lose muscle mass but still eat 2,000 calories a day.”
The day began with breakfast of the lowest protein regular cereal he could find, Curiously Cinnamon, with almond milk as it is lower in protein than cow’s milk.
Gluten-free products have less protein, so lunch was jam sandwiches using gluten-free bread. His evening meal was gnocchi with carefully weighed small portions of chicken or pork and a gluten-free muffin.
“A key theme that comes up in the podcast is being disciplined, whether through taking meds, through eating kidney-friendly foods and looking after yourself. Sport certainly helps have that disciplined mind set.”
In the meantime, Lewis is an avid fan of research as he knows at some point in the future, he is likely to need another kidney transplant.
“I’d like to see treatments transform so kidneys can be grown using stem cells. Also, it would be great to see mechanical kidneys, like a pacemaker. A common misconception is that once we have our transplant, we’re OK. The reality is, we’re not cured, we’re still living with kidney disease and it could go wrong at any time. Research can change that.”
- Transplants Take On Sport is available to listen to on all major podcast providers. If you don’t have access to a podcast app, visit www.lewisdaniels.co.uk.
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