Kidney disease is a silent disease. Being under the care of a GP that treated me for high blood pressure and suffering headaches, I sought the second opinion of another GP due to overwhelming fatigue and the need for more sleep.
With blood, urine and blood pressure tests he found a possible kidney problem. I was sent to a Nephrologist who arranged for a biopsy of the kidneys. On my return to the 'Doc' his word were 'well old man you're too far gone. You will be on dialysis within six months.' I proved him wrong - it was just three months!
In 1994 I started dialysis at a renal unit in Hobart, where I was supported by great nursing staff and caring people. I was told by the kidney surgeons visiting from Victoria that I would be an ideal person for a kidney transplant. I had been asked if someone in my family could be a kidney donor, however being adopted I have no family background or people to turn to.
So I went on the waiting list for a kidney donation from someone deceased. I was told the waiting list was at that time four to five years. I dialyzed and waited for seven and a quarter years! I had a bag packed ready for the trip to Melbourne under my bed for five years. Finally the call came on a Saturday in January to head off to Melbourne with my Dad for the donation. The plane broke down in Melbourne so we were late getting there.
The operation took around two hours. On waking the next day the bed next to me was occupied by a man also from Tasmania who received a transplant on the same day as mine.
My thoughts are always with that donor and their family. In the end it was the family that had to make the final decision to abide by the wishes of their next of kin to become an organ donor and improve or save many people's lives!
It's now many years since that day and I'm still living a healthy life and working thanks to an organ donor.