Kidneys for Life: Coping with Illness during the COVID-19 Pandemic

We spoke to the charity Kidneys for Life about the difficulties faced during this time...

By Manchester's Finest | 19 May 2020

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We’re currently being told to ‘Stay Home, Protect The NHS, Save Lives‘ due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, and the disruption it has caused throughout all of our lives is clear to see on a daily basis.

However, being forced to work from home or stay indoors is a small price to pay for reducing the transmission of the disease, and so far, people are adhering to the rules, and confirmed cases (and deaths) are falling.

But what if you were ill? What if you had an illness which required you to go to hospital on a regular basis?

Or if you were on the waiting list for an operation and that’s been put back because of the pandemic – meaning that as a result you may lose your life?

Well, of course, the world hasn’t really stopped turning and illnesses haven’t stopped being a problem just because of this new virus – and this week we spoke to the charity Kidneys for Life about the difficulties they, and the people they work tirelessly to help, face on a daily basis during the lockdown.

First of all, there are currently more than 1.8 million people in England with chronic kidney disease, with around another million people who have the condition but are undiagnosed. I also had no idea that Greater Manchester is one of the worst areas in UK for the incidence and prevalence of kidney disease.

Luckily though, the Manchester Royal Infirmary has the largest transplant centre in the UK, performing more transplants than any other centre with the best results and using more mismatches than anywhere else, and this is where Kidneys For Life is based.

It’s a common misconception that a kidney transplant is a cure, but there is NO cure for kidney disease. Dialysis and transplantation are both treatments, meaning once you’re a kidney patient – you’re a kidney patient for life!

Kidneys For Life therefore support kidney patients, young and old, and fund research focusing on improving early detection, developing better dialysis and transplantation treatments and prolonging the life of a transplanted kidney.

With the outbreak of COVID-19, fundraising and support immediately got much more difficult for Kidneys for Life, not only because kidney transplant patients are especially vulnerable to the virus, but because there are currently NO transplants taking place – whether you’ve got a match or not.

So, kidney transplant patients are stuck in a limbo, while Kidneys for Life struggle to get ANY form of funding or donations through.

With the restrictions in place, planned events and fundraisers have had to be cancelled, such as the Transplant Games set to take place in Coventry, as well as larger events which would get donations through such as the London Marathon and the Great Manchester Run.

This situation isn’t just something that is unique to Kidneys for Life, it is a series of issues that are affecting hundreds of charities and millions of people throughout the UK (and the world) – and something that hasn’t really had much of a voice since the outbreak of COVID-19.

There are, of course, ways in which you can help during these unprecedented times. Kidneys for Life, like most charities, accept donations and by donating, you’ll ensure that they can continue to fund research and support those who are living not just with the threat of COVID-19 but also something much worse.

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