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Around three million people in the UK have kidney disease

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Vice Chair of Trustees, David Prosser, writes about the importance of research, now more than ever.

14 April 2020

David Prosser, our Vice Chair of Trustees, writes in social isolation on the Coronavirus situation and the importance now, more than ever, of research to improve the lives of people affected by kidney disease.

David Prosser
David Prosser, Vice Chair of Trustees, doing his #mugshot challenge photo

David writes: “Ironically, my children and wife are engaged in a slightly comical battle over who should donate a kidney to me. One daughter claims it’s her right as her nose is the same shape as mine. Another thinks it’s hers because she’s physically the fittest. And my dear spouse of nearly 38 years thinks she should top the batting line up as it’d be less of a tragedy if anything happened to her, because she’s older (sic)!”, he laughs, adding  “But as with all humour, it’s only funny if there’s a grain of truth in it. Our dark humour masks an underlying psychological minefield” says David.

“I listen and wonder how I would feel in their shoes. I feel a sense of guilt, of shame even. I don’t want to put my fam through the wringer. I’m told it’s perfectly do-able and safe, but for my daughters, I’m dogged by the nagging conviction that a parent should make sacrifices for a child and not the other way around.”

“Logically sound and simultaneously, emotionally topsy-turvy; it’s like much of living with kidney disease. The counter thought is that my family want me around a while longer and are showing a huge deal of love and affection by offering to donate. No, vying to donate! Transplant is a means to an end. It is a strange emotional battle to get to grips with and I suspect one which only a kidney patient would ever truly understand.”

David, 60, knows he will need a second transplant soon. It’s been over 33 years since his first one. So, with this turmoil rattling around in the background, and labelled ‘extremely vulnerable’ by the Government, how is he coping with self-isolation?

“Research is the only game in town for current and future generations of renal patients”, says David, who is working from home with a business as usual approach during the Coronavirus lockdown.

“It is important to keep our message alive, loud and strong” said David, a proud Trustee of Kidney Research UK since 2013. “As a kidney patient, keeping busy with a structured day is an important part of my dealing with this strange situation of self-isolation,” he said. “Some physical exercise, charity related work and a bit of academic study is my daily personal cocktail. Thank heavens for the internet.”

“People have no control over their kidney disease. This invisible, silent, invidious thing is happening to you. You didn’t ask for it. It’s life threatening. However, if you can be a part of the movement to facilitate research, that’s a game changer, if not to help you now, to help others in the future. It’s empowering. There‘s no sincerer form of care for kidney patients than participating in research. I get enormous satisfaction from being involved in that in my role as a Trustee.”

Research has certainly made a huge difference for David. For example, he now takes EPO, a synthetic substance which prompts bone marrow to produce red blood cells, helping to reduce anaemia. “I wish that was around 30 years ago when I was on dialysis,” he said. “I feel so much better for taking it, even though it’s still new to me. Being a butterfingers, I’m still getting the hang of self-injecting EPO: half of the first dose shot down my leg!”

David is particularly passionate to support regenerative medicine, taking a person’s cells to grow their own kidney. “Imagine. No more rejection issues,” he said. “It is important we nurture scientists to carry out this work. That’s the ultimate gamechanger.

And that reminds me”, he adds, “When this is over, my spouse and I have decided to add a codicil to our will naming Kidney Research UK as a beneficiary.”

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