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I didn’t know my blood pressure would cause kidney failure until it was too late

19 March 2024

For most of his adult life, Pat Moriarty, 77, from Monmouth in Wales, has required medication to manage high blood pressure. However, it was only in 2021 that he discovered his kidneys were failing because of his hypertension. Pat soon found himself needing dialysis to stay alive, with little time to discuss his treatment or prepare mentally.  

Pat, a retired housing developer, says: “Nobody explained to me that my high blood pressure could cause my kidneys to fail. There was a lot of talk about heart attacks and strokes but very little about kidneys. By the time anyone was thinking about it, it was too late to stop the decline of my kidney function and it became clear I was going to need dialysis.” 

husband and wife sat on some garden steps
Pat with his wife

Dialysis dictates my daily routine

There is no cure for kidney disease, and treatments greatly impact quality of life. Dialysis patients require many hours of treatment, several times per week, making it more difficult to engage in life and work. It is often physically and mentally exhausting. 

As Pat’s kidney function dropped to 10%, he opted for a form of treatment called peritoneal dialysis, which enables patients to dialyse at home. This removed the need to visit a medical centre multiple times per week for haemodialysis. However, it also increased the frequency of dialysis required to four 30-minute sessions per day. 

Pat says: “Dialysis is inconvenient. I have to dialyse when I wake up, then again at lunchtime, teatime and before I go to bed. It has affected my ability to travel. We manage to visit Portugal by car because we can transport enough dialysis bags, but air travel is pretty much out of the question. It’s a pity as my wife and I had hoped to see more of the world after retiring.” 

I wish I’d been more informed

Pat, a father of four and grandfather of eight, has adapted his lifestyle to accommodate dialysis. He says: “People have told me I cope with it remarkably well. I’ve always approached life with the attitude that ‘if it happens, it happens’ and you have to get on with it. I’m retired so, although I do various charitable work, I can plan my days around my dialysis at home.” 

Although he remains positive, Pat feels more could have been done to diagnose his kidney disease sooner, and to prepare him for treatment. He says: “It would have been helpful beforehand to have had discussions about what different types of dialysis would mean for me. I’d have loved to have spoken with people already on dialysis to put my mind at rest about what was next.” 

A family photograph taken in garden
Pat with his family

There aren’t enough transplants for everyone

Receiving a kidney transplant offers patients the opportunity of a life without the need for dialysis, for as long as that kidney continues to function. Transplants are not a cure, and only last for 20 years on average, but can drastically improve a patient’s quality of life. 

To receive a transplant from a deceased donor, you must be placed on a waiting list, and Pat is painfully aware of the time it can take to receive a kidney. There are over 5,500 people on the waiting list for a kidney in the UK, and six people die every week waiting for a kidney transplant. 

Pat says: “When they asked me if I wanted to go onto the waiting list to have a transplant, I actually said no. I feel I’ve not had a bad life and didn’t want to take up a place of somebody younger who might make more use of it.” 

Read more about people living with kidney disease

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