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Derek’s story

In 2012 Derek's kidneys suddenly failed and turned his retirement into a rigid regime of haemodialysis.

Kent resident Derek King had always enjoyed good health but in late December 2012 his kidneys suddenly failed and turned his retirement into a rigid regime of haemodialysis.

He now looks upon his treatment as a job that he must do to stay alive.

But he hopes his involvement in PIVOTAL ‒ the largest renal clinical trial ever conducted exclusively in the UK ‒ will help to make a real difference to the lives of future haemodialysis patients.

One of the complications of being treated for kidney failure using haemodialysis is that people develop anaemia and iron deficiency which can leave them feeling exhausted and seriously reduces quality of life.

Patients are already given intravenous iron to treat the condition, but there is limited consistency across the NHS and indeed the world, as to how much is administered.

The PIVOTAL clinical trial is investigating the optimum amount of intravenous iron that people on haemodialysis should receive.

Derek King a Pivotal trial patient

Derek, of Romney Marsh, is among more than 2,000 patients from 50 renal units nationwide, who took part in the trial. It formed part of his regular four-hour haemodialysis sessions held three times a week at the Canterbury Renal Unit, part of the Kent and Canterbury Hospital.

“Elizabeth, the nurse in charge of my unit, first came and broached the subject of PIVOTAL with me and I said, ‘Yes, by all means, put my name down’,” says Derek.

“I’ve been involved in the trial from the start. The trial is assessing the effects of giving high doses of iron to some patients, and low doses to others and then looking at the differences between the two groups. I get the high dose once a month until such time that they say ‘you’ve reached a peak’ and then I don’t have it for a month.

"I don’t have to do anything extra or make a special trip to the renal unit. It all goes on while I’m having my usual dialysis".

“This is the first clinical trial I’ve been involved in and I would definitely recommend it to others. These trials mean that we can gradually learn more and more and that’s the name of the game. It might not benefit me but if I can help someone in the future it’s all for the good.

“It came as a total shock when the doctors told me my kidneys had failed. I thought I’d just got a virus. They still don’t really know what caused the failure but I’ve got used to my situation. I’m not as strong as I was before and I can’t walk very far but I can still take my Jack Russell Bullseye for walks.

“I consider myself fortunate. I’ve lived my life and don’t have to rush around any more but some of the younger people on dialysis have got school work, jobs or young families to think of. Hopefully their lives will improve as a result of the PIVOTAL trial.”

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