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Jelina Berlow-Rahman’s story

Jelina built her own law firm whilst managing a grueling dialysis regime.

Award winning human rights lawyer, Jelina Berlow-Rahman built her own law firm whilst also managing a grueling dialysis regime. Jelina’s kidneys started failing at the age of 18. This was discovered when her aching hands and painful lesions on her lips and tongue led her to have tests which revealed she had an aggressive form of lupus.

The lupus was attacking her kidneys, causing them to inflame. Steroids were prescribed to boost her kidney function and she threw herself into obtaining her law degree. Whilst completing her traineeship she met her future husband Matthew. She qualified as a solicitor, despite her kidney function rapidly deteriorating.

Jelina Berlow-Rahman on dialysis
Jelina Berlow-Rahman on dialysis


A bout of flu in November 2005 led to an emergency admission to hospital. Jelina had no option but to begin dialysis to stay alive as her kidney function had become so poor. She was on the waiting list for a kidney transplant, but with no telling how long the wait would be. Jelina dialysed for 4-5 hours, three times a week. She even tried peritoneal dialysis whilst working, but she had to move to haemodialysis when the peritoneal dialysis had little impact and was causing more harm than good.

She managed to stay positive despite constant fatigue and the knowledge that a kidney transplant was her only hope. Two years later she was hospitalised with agonising acute pancreatitis and contracted a superbug infection. Her doctors decided Jelina wasn’t well enough for surgery and she was taken off the transplant waiting list. It was two years before she was back on the register.

There was one emotional false alarm when a prospective donor kidney was damaged in transit and couldn’t be used, then Jelina finally had a successful transplant in December 2009 after four punishing years on dialysis.

Today, Jelina continues her brilliant career, is a staunch supporter of Kidney Research UK and proud mum to Aliyah.

“When I lost my kidney, I lost my freedom. I was reliant on a machine to keep me alive. Having a transplant meant freedom, one most people take for granted. I will always be grateful to the donor’s parents, who made that ultimate decision. The ongoing research work by Kidney Research UK is vitally important. Thanks to research I’m blessed not only with a kidney, but with a beautiful baby.”

Jelina Berlow-Rahman and daughter, Aliyah
Jelina Berlow-Rahman and daughter, Aliyah

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