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Young peer educator is keen to get back to doing what she loves – raising awareness of kidney disease

19 November 2020

Salford University student is keen to get back to raising awareness of kidney disease once lockdown restrictions are lifted. 

Ammarah Mehmood, 21, is passionate about spreading awareness of kidney disease having seen the impact it has had on her dad Tariq.  

Ammarah is one of a growing number of champions, known as peer educators, helping to tackle the shortage of organ donors in minority ethnic communities across the UK. 

Ammarah Mehmood
Ammarah Mehmood raising awareness of kidney disease

“Most people have no clue what kidney disease is and how it affects families,” says Ammarah. “This makes existing health inequalities even worse.

“I’d hoped to hold an information stand for Manchester students during freshers week but sadly everything was cancelled. It’s important for people to know the signs of kidney disease, how to look after your kidneys and to understand the importance of organ donation.”

Close to her heart

Ammarah wanted to support a charity that was close to her heart which would also be relevant to her degree.
After getting in touch with Kidney Research UK she attended a health conference last year where she held a pop-up health stand to raise awareness.

Plans were in the pipeline to get involved in more events this year but sadly many were postponed or cancelled due to coronavirus.

“I hope it can pick back up again once this is over,” Ammarah said.

A human biology and infectious diseases student at Salford University, Ammarah is currently in her second year on a placement at Wythenshawe Hospital. As part of her experience she is working on Covid samples looking at antibodies at six and 12-month intervals.

Ammarah’s dad Tariq was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2012 and was on dialysis three times a week for 2 years.

Dad was a taxi driver before dialysis

“He wasn’t able to work because he was too ill. Before dialysis he worked taxi driving. After a kidney transplant his hospital appointments decreased and his health slowly improved, but kidney disease is the type of health condition where it is with you for life and that is something people don’t understand. It doesn’t end when a person gets a transplant.

“However, donating a kidney is often the best treatment for many patients, enabling them to lead a “near normal” life.

“Watching my dad get worse every year was heart breaking as I was seeing less of him growing up. He was always in hospital, three times a week for dialysis, and I could see big changes in his appearance. For example, weight loss, extreme tiredness and loss of appetite.”

“Since having the kidney transplant, dad’s health improved massively. He became stronger and looked healthier.”

Proud of Ammarah

Neerja Jain, health equalities programme manager for Kidney Research UK, said: “Ammarah has been a great asset to Kidney Research UK’s multi award winning peer educator initiative!

“We are proud of what she has achieved before the pandemic forced social distancing. We continue to be proud of her contribution to the fight against Covid-19.

“I look forward to working with Ammarah on raising awareness of kidney disease among the students of Manchester and also, on our new project in Salford to encourage “poorly reached” people to engage in research.

“It is vital, that as a charity, we help to reduce, the ever more pronounced health inequalities.”

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