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Joining Kidney Research UK’s Newcastle Bridges Walk in memory of Grandad

09 May 2024

When Kidney Research UK returns to Newcastle on 16 June for the Bridges Walk, Chloe Hall and her family will be there once again to join Team Kidney in transforming the lives of those affected by kidney disease.  

Chloe, 23 from Northumberland, and her mum, Emma, have both been diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease (PKD), while her grandad, Derek, passed away from the condition in 2023, aged 68. 

Chloe, who is working towards a degree in childhood studies, says: “When we joined the Newcastle Bridges Walk last time, my grandad really enjoyed it. Before he passed away, we’d talk about the kidney walk and he really wanted to do it again. He’d be so happy me, my mam, brother, sister and stepdad are doing it together for him this year.” 

Chloe with her mum, sister and Grandad, in his wheelchair, wearing purple tshirts at Newcastle Bridges Walk
Chloe and her family at Newcastle Bridges Walk

Grandad lost his independence 

Derek was 40 years old before he discovered he’d been living with PKD. Chloe says: “I hadn’t been born yet, but it came as a big shock to my family and changed everyone’s lives – particularly as the disease was hereditary. 

“My grandma tells us about how my grandad really valued his independence. He was a strong lad who worked his whole life and had loads of friends. He was active and enjoyed gardening. Always cracking rubbish jokes! 

“His kidney disease was found at stage four so there was little that could be done about it. His body began deteriorating and he became less mobile. He had strokes, heart attacks and his mental health was affected a lot. Unfortunately, a kidney transplant wasn’t an option, and he received dialysis three times a week at the Freeman Hospital. That continued until he passed away. 

“Kidney disease profoundly impacted Grandad but he tried not to show that to us and still found joy in life.” 

Man having dialysis
Chloe's grandad, Derek

Thinking about my future is scary

Knowing the disease was hereditary, Chloe’s family were tested to see if they’d inherited PKD. Unfortunately, mum, Emma, was found to have the condition, and Chloe also discovered she had the disease at the age of nine.  

Chloe says: “I just remember crying. It felt like a death sentence. I’d grown up seeing how kidney disease affected my grandad and was just thinking that would be me one day. 

“I didn’t have many symptoms. I was smaller than my siblings, but my family always comforted me and reassured me about everything. I do get pains in my kidneys now, but just need annual check-ups to monitor my health. 

“Grandad’s kidney disease meant I was diagnosed much earlier, so I can take steps to try and slow deterioration of my kidneys. I try to keep as healthy as possible by limiting salt intake and drinking more water. It’s the same with my mam, who is at a similar stage of kidney disease to me. 

“Between appointments I feel a lot of nerves that my kidneys might have deteriorated. There is going to come a day when they tell me it has gotten worse. The anticipation of that is scary. Hopefully it won’t get to dialysis for me, and I’ll be able to explore a transplant if it does come to that.” 

I feel seen at Newcastle Bridges Walk

Kidney disease is often a hidden illness, and Chloe says: “Looking at me you wouldn’t know. I could be sat here in pain, and nobody would have any idea. People don’t realise how serious it is. 

“Joining the walk a few years back felt like we were seen for the first time and actually part of a community. Everyone has a different story but you’re all there for the same reason and that’s really reassuring. It’s so interesting to talk to people and I’m excited about going again. 

“We had a great time promoting Kidney Research UK with our purple t-shirts and enjoying the atmosphere. Grandad loved being pushed through Newcastle in his wheelchair, taking everything in and getting photos with everyone. 

“Kidney Research UK are so important in raising awareness of what kidney disease is. It feels like a forgotten disease by the regular person, but It’s important to make people aware of how much it does impact lives.” 

Walkers at London Bridges Walk 2022

Will you be at Newcastle Bridges Walk?

Join Chloe, and the Team Kidney community, to raise awareness of kidney disease at the Newcastle Bridges Walk.

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