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Walking all over kidney disease for March March

22 February 2024

Stephanie Roche is one of hundreds of people taking on our ‘The March March’ challenge, walking 10,000 steps every day to raise funds in the fight against kidney disease. By the time she reaches 310,000 steps at the end of March, Stephanie, 37 from Kettering, will be about to celebrate her first kidneyversary – one year on from the kidney transplant which has given her a new lease of life. 

Stephanie says: “The past four years have been awful and traumatic, but I’m well enough now to give a little back. For some people 10,000 steps a day probably isn’t a big challenge, but for me it is. That’s why I chose to do this, because I’m pushing myself out of my comfort zone to do some good.” 

A traumatic time

In 2020, at their 20-week scan, Stephanie and her husband, David, received the devastating news of complications with their pregnancy, leading to the loss of their baby. Blood tests also revealed that Stephanie’s kidney function was low, and, after a biopsy, she was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy 

Stephanie says: “You don’t expect it. It hits you out of nowhere. My nephrologist thought I’d been living with this type of kidney disease for 10 years, but I had no idea. I didn’t realise how poorly I was until I had my transplant and felt so much better. I had so much more energy, it was amazing.” 

Stephanie Roche and her husband David
Stephanie Roche and her husband David

In April 2023, Stephanie received a transplant from husband, David, as her kidney function fell to just 9%. Post-transplant, her new kidney was working at 90%, but then her body started rejecting it, causing this to drop rapidly to 35%. Stephanie was admitted back into hospital for plasma exchanges, blood transfusions and other treatments to counteract this.  

Stephanie says: “The rejection was traumatic, even the doctors weren’t expecting it. It was grim receiving the treatment, but things were getting better every day. I got back up to 90% function and was let home. I haven’t been admitted back into hospital since. We’ve come out of the other side now and I’m hoping this is it. We’re looking to the future and things are a lot more positive.” 

The statistics are scary

There are estimated to be 7.2 million people in the UK currently living with chronic kidney disease, and this is something Stephanie is painfully aware of. She says: “There are so many people with kidney disease, and they aren’t always as lucky as I was to have somebody donate a kidney. The waiting list can take such a long time and you might have to go on dialysis. That treatment takes up such a big part of your life and it was something I really didn’t want to do.” 

“People think that because I’ve had a transplant, I’m cured. There is no cure, and the transplant is just another treatment. Chances are I might need to have another one, but I won’t be able to have another kidney from my husband. I’m a positive person so I always try to think of the best outcome. For me, that’s for this kidney to last my whole life. It’s important not to get bogged down in the ‘what ifs’.” 

Lady wearing purple tshirt, sitting on sofa with two dogs
Stephanie Roche

Positive steps forward

By taking part in ‘The March March’, Stephanie is hoping to raise money and awareness, alongside her 11-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Sage. She says: “Every day I can get out and do these 10,000 steps with Sage. I’ve got the Kidney Research UK bandana for her, so she’ll be out wearing that!” 

“I’d be really pleased if I could raise £500 and bring more awareness to kidney disease, IgA nephropathy and transplants. I’d never heard of kidney disease and none of my friends or family had been affected by it. When I decided to take part, I sent an email to everybody I work with to let them know why I was doing it and gave them a bit more background about what I’ve experienced. They’ve been so supportive throughout everything.”    

“Getting a diagnosis like this is overwhelming, and it’s important to support charities like Kidney Research UK to be there to help people find information and show there are others going through similar things. I’d like my story to show that there is light at the end of the tunnel and people can get their lives back.” 

“I've been able to go on a few holidays and spent New Year in Antigua which was brilliant. We’ve got things planned this year with friends and family too. I’m so thankful that I’m able to enjoy life again.” 

pink and grey logo reading The March March, with footprints overlaid on the wording

Still time to sign-up

Join #TeamKidney and take on The March March step challenge.

Walk 10,000 steps a day, for 31 days, and fundraise to support life-changing kidney research. 

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