Former Hull City youth player shares his tips for staying fit post-transplant
Dan Hogben was on course for a scholarship with Hull City before his career was cut short with a kidney disease diagnosis. For World Kidney Day on 9 March 2023, 19 year old Dan spoke to us on life after transplant and why kidney health matters.
Dan, before your transplant you had a very active lifestyle, how difficult was it for you to stop all that to have your operation?
My life really did revolve around football and exercise, it was a huge part of what I did every day so when I was told that I had to stop, it was a massive shock.
I was desperate to get back on the pitch or even into the gym, but I was warned by the doctors that I had to take things as slow as possible even though I wanted to jump back into things.
How did you get back into exercising, did it feel different to before your transplant?
I honestly listened to my body, when it felt right to get back into it, I knew that I needed to ease myself in. I started slow, going on short walks that gradually built up to longer periods on my feet. By three months after the operation, I was doing 4-5 miles walks at a time which, in the grand scheme of things, was really quick.
Four months after the operation I was back in the gym on light exercise only, but I soon worked myself up to full weights and cardio. After around eight months, I was finally allowed back on the pitch. Unfortunately, I could never get back to playing at the level I was before the operation, but having the goal of pursuing a refereeing career and getting myself fit helped the recovery process.
And what about diet? Did that have to change after your diagnosis?
I think that the most difficult part of the whole ordeal was having to watch what I eat. I had to be so strict with my diet and it felt as if there were so many things that I wasn’t allowed. I was really careful with my phosphates which are found in processed foods, some fizzy drinks and cheese and I was restricted in how much protein I was allowed to consume.
After my transplant, things got a lot better, I still have to have some restrictions on my diet but this is now to make sure to avoid foods that are higher risk of infection which includes some dairy products and very rare meats.
I used to be really skinny when I was playing football so now that I can have a bit more protein in my diet, I’m taking the opportunity to bulk up.
What advice would you give to people who are about to have a transplant?
The one piece of advice I would give to people having a transplant is to stay active as much as possible before and after your operation. If you are able to be fit and healthy before your operation you will have a much swifter recovery.
I think it’s really important to remain positive through the whole process, keep focusing on getting that transplant and what life is going to be like in the future. I have always been very good at looking past the negative aspects of my kidney disease and putting my full focus on what I was going to do as soon as I got my transplant.
I wanted to prove to people that a transplant does not have to hold you back.
What’s next for Dan Hogben?
I hope there’s a lot more to come in the future. I’m on a journey to becoming a professional referee so I’ve been learning about what it’s like on the other side.
I’ve also not given up on playing on the pitch, I have the opportunity to play with the GB transplant football team and I’ve been really impressed with the quality of the players. It comes with so many opportunities including the potential to take part in the Transplant World Cup in Italy next year.
I also want to help other people in a similar situation to me. I’ve learned so much in my short time of being a kidney patient and want to help inspire others to get through their tough times.
I’ve started to raise money for Kidney Research UK as I want to help other kidney patients live a better life. I’m hoping to hold a few fundraising events in the near future and help to fund future research projects through the charity.
To support Dan and to help him raise money for Kidney Research UK visit his GoFundMe page.
A free Kidney Kit
Many patients need a bit of support and guidance to get on track with their nutrition and fitness which is why we have produced a Kidney Kit, filled with recipes and exercises tailored to patients’ needs.
To get as match-fit as Dan, sign up for your Kidney Kit today.