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Why Alan is ‘walking all over’ kidney disease

23 November 2023

There is still time to sign up for our Peterborough Cathedral Winter Walk taking place on Sunday 3 December. Everyone is welcome to join the picturesque five-mile fundraising walk, which starts and finishes at Peterborough Cathedral, including Nene Park as part of the route.

Alan, his partner, and his two dogs, Amber and Ozzie, will be there alongside his brother, his wife and their dog Milly, as part of #TeamKidney to ‘walk all over kidney disease’ by raising money to fund vital research and change the lives of the 7.2 million people living with kidney disease in the UK.

A family deeply affected

Alan, 54, from Market Harborough, is no stranger to kidney disease. He went into kidney failure in 2019, needing 10 hours of peritoneal dialysis each night to keep him alive. He says: “I half knew I would end up in this situation because my father died from kidney disease at a young age. The disease has set me back a bit and I can’t do the things I used to do as I don’t have the strength.”

He has also seen his brother, uncles and cousins diagnosed with the disease.

Working on his DIY house restoration project became more challenging, and treatment necessitated periods of time away from Alan’s work as a van driver. Although Alan adjusted to life on dialysis, he says, “Going to bed early to get the ten hours of treatment finished before work the next day was a problem. Me and my partner had to sleep in separate bedrooms because of the noise. Dialysis also really limits your travel as it’s a pain taking everything with you.”

Man sitting on a bench with his dog next to him
Alan with one his dogs

Receiving his transplant

In July 2023, after four years on the waiting list, Alan received a kidney transplant. “It’s great being free from the dialysis machine, being able to eat more and having my skin feeling back to normal,” he says. “I’ve not been on a plane for a few years so I can’t wait to travel to somewhere like Spain or Italy or go back to Vietnam one day.”

While Alan is optimistic about the future, transplants are not always successful and only last an average of 20 years before another one is needed. This naturally creates anxiety and Alan says, “I’m worried about it rejecting all the time. I get obsessed with checking my blood test results on my app. They come in at about 11.30pm and I stay up waiting for them.”

The emotions which come with receiving a transplant are complicated and Alan has felt that mix of happiness and anxiety but also sorrow for the family of the person who passed away, leaving a kidney for him. He says, “I often think about the donor’s family. I’d like to write to them when the time feels right to do so.”

Man wearing blue tshirt and jeans with pet golden spaniel on a wall next to man
Alan and one of his walking companions

‘I want to do what I can as a thank you’

Living with kidney disease is hard and Alan has been affected in many ways throughout his life. Joining others at our Peterborough Cathedral Winter Walk is one way Alan is supporting research into prevention, care and treatments of the future. He says, “I want to do what I can as a thank you for the support I have received.”

“I’m hoping I can manage the five-mile route,” he continues, “but sometimes I feel out of breath just walking the dogs. The walk might be a challenge, but you can go at your own pace and that’s what I’ll be doing.”

Join the Peterborough Cathedral Winter Walk

Anyone can register to take part, for just £5. Supporters who raise £50 or more receive a free Kidney Research UK beanie hat. Participants who sign up by 24 November will be entered into the draw to win a family ticket to watch The Wizard of Oz at The Cresset.

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