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Worst case scenario was Sanjay’s reality

25 September 2022

Sanjay’s story sounds like a worst-case scenario but is an unfortunate reality for many people with kidney disease. After racing to hospital for a transplant twice, it was only on the third call from the transplant team that he was able to finally get his life back.    

Living with diabetes since his early twenties, Sanjay’s kidney journey began just five years ago after falling ill at a wedding. He spent eighteen months on dialysis, with his nephrologist informing him that he could wait up to two years or even longer for a new organ.  

A devastating call

In 2019, he received the call he’d been waiting for and picked up the phone in a daze at 3am. Sanjay was rushed to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge but after spending over 24 hours waiting, he was given the devastating news that the organ was no longer viable.  

Sanjay explained: The waiting is torturous and is something that they don’t show you on TV or in films. You have to wait in a room preparing yourself for a momentous occasion in your life without much information on what is happening. I can remember video-calling my wife so that I could see and speak to my children before they went to bed and in my own head in case they didn’t see me again. I fell asleep. I was awoken around 4am to say that the organ was not viable, and I could go home.

"That was it, and no other explanation was given. The emotional rollercoaster of that 24 hours was something I had never experienced in my life, and I had to return to normal life to wait for the next opportunity.” 

Transplant recipient Sanjay Mistry
Sanjay was twice denied his transplant at the last minute

Third time lucky

Unfortunately, the experience was repeated when Sanjay was called into Addenbrooke’s again in June 2020 only to be told the same thing, the donor kidney was no longer viable. On the third call, Sanjay was sceptical about the outcome.  

Sanjay continued: “The third time I left for the hospital I said goodbye to my wife and kids and said I'll see them in the morning as I expected it to be another false alarm. I went through the usual motions of tests and waiting. The hours ticked by and it got later and later, and I was expecting them to come in and say it's not happening again. But I was wrong and later that evening after 10 hours under, I finally had a new kidney.” 

Sanjay’s story is shared by many other kidney patients who face the turmoil of emotions when the call for a transplant comes through, and there are no guarantees of a successful outcome. Sadly, six people die every week whilst waiting for a kidney. With more research, patients like Sanjay will not have to face the all-too-common uncertainty.  

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