Skip to content

“I thought my high blood pressure was down to my weight, turns out it was my kidneys”

18 March 2024

Richard Curry, from Gateshead, was told that his high blood pressure was probably down to his weight but after three years of trying to manage this, he was finally diagnosed with kidney disease. And worse news was to come, it was already at stage five, he was in kidney failure. Dialysis started almost immediately for Richard, 50, who was then a construction worker, leaving him with virtually no time to prepare. 

He explains: “My ankles had started to really swell, and I thought that's not right. My GP sent me to the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle who said that my kidneys were in a terrible state and that they weren’t even going to do a biopsy because they were that far gone.” 

Female and male both wearing brightly coloured wigs
Richard Curry

Dialysis took away my living

After a rocky start on at-home peritoneal dialysis Richard switched to haemodialysis, a form of dialysis that takes place in a hospital. Unlike peritoneal dialysis which flushes the abdomen with fluid to take away harmful toxins, haemodialysis cleans the blood directly.  

Richard has three, five-hour sessions of dialysis a week at a satellite unit but this leaves him unable to work, despite his desire to get back on his feet.  

“I’ve worked my whole life, and I thought about getting a part time job but there’s no such thing as a part time job in construction,” he says. “The dialysis physically wipes me out. I’ve thought about getting a little driving job or something, but the way I’ll feel after each session is so uncertain. Sometimes my blood pressure is so low I’m not allowed to drive myself home and I have to wait half an hour. That’s been the hardest thing. Packing it all in broke my heart.” 

I thought I was going to die

Not only did Richard lose his ability to work, his entire life was flipped upside down. He felt alone and isolated as nobody explained to him what his diagnosis meant. “I just thought ‘kidney transplant, diseases and dying,’” he remembers.

“That's it. That’s what I thought until somebody actually sat down and told me what was going to happen. I didn’t know anything about kidneys or kidney disease. I was terrified at the time and all I thought was I’m going to die. 

After a good conversation with his nurse, he felt more comfortable with his diagnosis and the treatment plan ahead of him, with the final goal of a transplant.  

A male lying in hospital best with a cake next to him
Richard in hospital

People don’t understand how ill I am 

The road to a transplant is never an easy one, and that is sadly the case for Richard too. His younger sister has been tested and, unfortunately, she is not an exact donor match, and neither is his partner. “People don't realise how ill I actually am,” he says. “I think it's going to take when I’m lying in intensive care with weeks to live or something for people to really see that.” 

Richard remains optimistic by taking part in a paired donation scheme. Donor-recipient pairs who are incompatible and unable to donate directly to each other are added to a national register to receive a compatible transplant with another pair when one becomes available. He explains: “There's a scheme where my partner would make her kidneys available and then somewhere down the country somebody will have a kidney available and then we all do a swap. It’s promising but it’s really slow. We’ve been going for 18 months now.” 

He adds: “I would love to think that if I ever got a transplant I would go back to work and have a reason for getting out of bed in the morning.” 

Richard remains comfortable on haemodialysis and is keeping his fingers crossed for an upcoming meeting with the transplant team at his local hospital. 

Read more about people living with kidney disease

Why not make a donation now?

(Every £ counts)

Scroll To Top