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Around three million people in the UK have kidney disease

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Let’s change the game

02 July 2020

In the three years since Andy Cole received his kidney transplant, the legendary footballer has welcomed Kidney Research UK’s involvement in his journey, which has helped him understand more about the disease and its impact.

Compelled by his desire to make a difference, Andy has now taken the huge step of launching a new research fund with Kidney Research UK. The Andy Cole Fund will raise funds for research that focuses on improving transplantation and research that will improve the health and wellbeing of people living with kidney disease.

A mental battle

Since suffering kidney failure in 2015, 48-year-old Andy has spent the last five years coming to terms with a ‘new normal’. He is now passionate about helping others cope with kidney disease.

“I’ve been mentally strong enough to play football, but this is the toughest battle I’ve ever had to deal with,” said Andy, who is currently in self-isolation during the coronavirus pandemic. He admits that at times his journey as a patient has been very dark. “I used to visit the doctor and make out I was fit and strong because I didn’t want to admit how hard it was, yet mentally, I was dying inside,” he said.

“I don’t want anyone to end up struggling like I did. The mental battle is bigger than the physical problem. Your mind is the most powerful thing in the world.”

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Post-transplant shock

Andy had thought his 20-year football career would stand him in good stead for a quick recovery after his transplant. He was floored by how different the reality was.

“I 100 per cent thought I would have the transplant and feel like the old me again. Give me a couple of months, I’ll be up and doing my thing. I’ll be running around again like a young man. Then I got the harsh reality check. It doesn’t happen. It hits you hard. That’s why research into making things better for kidney patients is so important.”

Andy received a kidney from his nephew in 2017. But although his health is vastly improved, he says the transplant operation is not the end of the story for most people.

“Transplant is not a cure,” he said. “If it works, it gives you a part of your life back and keeps you ticking over. But it’s a lot tougher than everyone makes out. We don’t really talk about kidneys because nobody understands them. When they go wrong it can be fatal.”

Research gives hope

Transplanted kidneys only last, on average, 10 to 15 years. Kidney Research UK wants to transform treatments so a kidney transplant doesn’t have a time limit, but can last for life.

The Andy Cole Fund will support this ambition. It will also fund research to improve kidney patients’ mental health and wellbeing, by understanding what support has the greatest impact.

Having visited a lab where he saw first-hand the difference the research we fund is making, Andy is fired up about the fund’s potential. “The work they are doing is phenomenal, it was a mind-blowing experience. I want to help push that work forward.”

With 15 England caps under his belt, and as the third-highest goal scorer in Premier League history, Andy is used to aiming high. He’s looking to raise at least £500,000 over the next three years.

We know that kidney failure can turn people’s lives upside down, and Andy’s passion and commitment is inspiring.

Sandra Currie, Chief Executive of Kidney Research UK.

“We are really grateful to Andy for choosing to work with us to drive forward research that will make a massive difference to so many other people. We are honoured to have the responsibility of looking after the fund and the research projects that it will be investing in. Andy’s passion and commitment is inspiring.”

All the money raised through the Andy Cole Fund will go towards specific projects in the areas of transplantation and wellbeing.

How you can help

Everyone’s welcome on Andy’s team! Find out how you can become season ticket holders to Andy’s team with a regular donation and support our brilliant teams of doctors, researchers and nurses in carrying out life-saving research.

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