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My daughter’s kidney transplant transformed our Christmas

07 December 2023

Christmas for Izzy and her family has always been a particularly challenging time. Izzy had to go on dialysis from birth, leaving the family facing constant trips to hospital just to allow their daughter to receive the treatment that was keeping her alive.  

Mum Emma vividly remembers how traditional Christmas activities were sacrificed for time in hospital, meaning Izzy was unable to experience the magic of Christmas like all her friends. Emma says: “Dialysis is very limiting and means you can't travel very far for very long. Izzy had haemodialysis during two Christmases, and we were not able to see family far away.” 

Despite making the best of Christmas in between dialysis sessions and with festive activities on the hospital ward, Emma adds: “It's not just being connected to a machine but the horrible symptoms of kidney disease that made it hard. Izzy would vomit at least three times per day and was tired all the time. It was heartbreaking.”  

‘Finally, we got to experience a ‘normal’ family Christmas!’

In 2019, just before her third birthday, Izzy received a life-saving kidney transplant. Emma says: “We don’t think the donor’s family quite realise the difference they’ve made, it’s not just that she’s no longer on dialysis, it’s all these other things that she’s suddenly able to do. It has provided freedom for the whole family.” 

By Christmas in 2019, Izzy’s sickness had subsided, and she had more energy. Emma says: “It was amazing not having to go into hospital during the festive period. Finally, we got to experience a ‘normal’ family Christmas!

Little girl in an elf outfit say on a hospital bed
Izzy Headings

“With three Christmases dominated by dialysis and one by Covid, we really appreciate our time together as a family and take nothing for granted. We hope this Christmas we will see lots of friends and family, watch festive films, visit Father Christmas, go to the pantomime and maybe even try ice skating!” 

mum and young daughter in a park with autumnal leaves around them
Izzy with her mum Emma

Transform treatments for children like Izzy

Despite the significant improvements for Izzy and her family post-transplant, the reality of current treatments for kidney disease is tough. The lives of about 30,000 patients in the UK are significantly affected by the need to visit hospital multiple times a week for long dialysis sessions with gruelling side-effects. Transplants can take years to receive and will only last an average of 20 years before another is needed. 

Izzy’s journey is by no means over, and Emma says: “Post-transplant, one of the things I find really difficult is a lot of people think once you’ve had your transplant you’re fixed. A lot of people are shocked that she’ll probably need another one – unless we’re really lucky.” 

At Kidney Research UK, we are funding crucial research into new and better treatments for the estimated 7.2 million people living with kidney disease in the UK. Help us to transform treatments and make transplants last forever, so that children like Izzy can live longer and happier lives with their new kidney. 

Read more about people living with kidney disease

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