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If I can walk The March March with one kidney, you can too!

23 February 2024

Grant from Edinburgh was left reeling in 2016 when, at 30 years old, doctors discovered he’d been living with just one kidney – and its function was declining. He says: “It was a big shock. I feel like I’ve had no control over anything. My kidney function keeps going down, and I’ve not been able to get a reason or prevent it.” 

Now Grant is one of hundreds of people participating in our ‘March March’ walking challenge, to achieve 10,000 steps every day of the month, and raise money to help combat kidney disease.  

Grant says: “With The March March, I’m in control of something. I decide when I do the steps and I feel like it’s a positive for me. It’s hard to talk about things, but I hope by sharing my story, someone might see it and be able to relate. They might think, if Grant is doing the March March with one kidney, then I can do it as well.” 

Man walking in the countryside in black coat and purple hat
Grant

Diagnosis came frustratingly late

Grant first realised something was wrong when he began feeling tired all the time. He says: “I was really drained of energy, and had gone from being active, playing football and going swimming, to, all of a sudden, getting tired just coming home from doing the food shopping.” 

“I went to the doctors, but it was frustrating to begin with as they told me nothing was wrong. It was two or three visits before they decided to ask for a urine sample, and when they had the results, they saw that my kidney function wasn’t what they expected it to be.” 

A subsequent scan revealed that Grant had been living with one kidney since birth, without anyone ever realising. He says: “It felt like a big unknown to me. I take blood pressure tablets and have appointments to ease the strain on my kidney and protect its function. The doctors can’t give me a cause for the decline though, because they can’t perform biopsies on people with only one kidney.” 

“It was frustrating having to insist to the doctors that something was wrong, and then still not knowing what had caused it. I had so many questions and wondered if I did something wrong to kick-start it. It’s only recently that my partner and I have started adjusting our diet. We don’t cook with salt anymore and have started doing more exercise. I feel like I could have done this way before my thirties if I’d known about it sooner.”  

Worries about the future

Grant is doing everything he can to protect his kidney function but recognises that treatments such as dialysis or a transplant could be required in the future. He says: “I feel like it’s a waiting game. My kidney function is at 19%, and it’s scary waiting for appointments to find out what’s next.  

“I speak to a therapist on a weekly basis and get a lot of support from my partner. It does affect me a lot. I’m very tired when I come home from work, but thankfully the job I have is hybrid working. When I go into the office, I can come home exhausted and just pass out on the sofa. That’s gradually getting worse for me. Thankfully I’ve got a very supportive employer, so I feel lucky in that regard.” 

Focusing on the positives

His health status might have knocked him back, but Grant isn’t letting it stop him from achieving his goals. He says: “I feel like I need to keep my mind focused on things. I throw myself into projects to keep my mind busy outside of work. Last year I graduated from the Open University with a degree in German, and that was good for my energy. That’s why I’m doing The March March.”  

Man walking in the countryside in purple hat and t-shirt

“I felt like I wanted to do something to help others, so I applied to volunteer with Kidney Research UK. I saw the March March and thought it was really good because it’s something I can do day-to-day; it’s not jumping out of a plane!” 

“I live next to a big park in Edinburgh, so my plan is to go for a walk every morning, so I don’t have all 10,000 steps to do at the end of the day. My colleagues at work have also been supportive, and said they’ll come on a walk with me at lunch to help me get my steps in. I met my £200 fundraising target in just 24 hours, so I’m very pleased and really grateful to the people who have supported me by donating or sharing my social media posts to raise awareness.” 

“Helping support research into earlier diagnosis of kidney disease is important to me. Hopefully in the future, that will help people like me to protect their kidney function earlier.”

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.  

Read more about people living with kidney disease

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