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Kidney disease ends here.

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Nanny takes early retirement and whole family chip in to care for Kate when her kidneys failed after giving birth

11 March 2021

A couple are sending a huge thanks to their amazing family who stepped in like superheroes to care for new mum Kate when her kidneys failed within minutes of giving birth to their first baby.

Kate spent two weeks in an induced coma in intensive care fighting for her life when a rare syndrome and septic shock caused her kidneys to fail, while in the recovery room after giving birth to Ronnie by Caesarean section.

Kate, Dan and baby Ronnie
Kate, Dan and baby Ronnie

Life was turned upside down

Kate and her husband Dan were looking forward to being first time parents, but instead life was turned upside down when she contracted septicaemia and had to stay in hospital for almost two months after having little Ronnie, now seven months old.

The 34​-year-old had a little-known syndrome called HELPP which is thought to affect only one in 1,000 women and is often mistaken for pre-eclampsia.

“I went into hospital for a baby, ended up in ICU and came out with virtually no kidney function, dialysis dependant and needing a transplant. I had to learn how to walk, talk and eat again. It’s been a massive shock,” Kate said.

While in hospital Dan’s mum Helen and sister Jo, brother in law Paul and daughter Chloe were all fabulous in looking after Ronnie and Dan by making sure he settled into his new home well, taking it it turns to do the night shifts.

Whole family chip in

With Dan needing to go back to work after paternity leave, the pair needed cover to look after Ronnie whilst Kate was at dialysis. “We called Mum in,” Kate said.

“And she has been awesome. She took early retirement to help us through this. She and Grandad stay at home with Ronnie when I go to hospital for dialysis for five hours three times a week and generally is a rock to us all.

“My sister and mother-in-law alternate having Ronnie on a Monday whilst I’m at dialysis and both siblings and partners have looked after us all, whether it’s for lifts, food shopping, having Ronnie overnight, helping with bath time.

“All of our family have been incredible. We are so grateful to them all.“

The whole family has chipped in with looking after Ronnie and Kate, taking days off, changing work schedules and having him for sleepovers.

“We would be lost without them all. Ronnie is such a lucky little boy having all this love.”

How it began

Kate suffered mystery stomach pains from around 20 weeks into her pregnancy, but tests suggested nothing was wrong.

By 36 weeks the pain had stepped up and baby Ronnie had stopped growing, so doctors called her into hospital to be induced.

After a four-day labour, however, with no progress, it was decided to give Kate a caesarean section.

Within moments of giving birth Kate fell seriously ill in the recovery room and was rushed to surgery to check for internal bleeding where she suffered multiple organ failure on the table and was taken to ICU. There, she was sedated for 10 days followed by six weeks on a renal ward.

"I held Ronnie for the first time at around two weeks old. Apparently, I kept asking for him, but I don’t remember as I was so out of it.”

Meanwhile, the midwives taught Dan how to look after Ronnie and after four days he took him home, while worrying about Kate. All of this during Covid times so he couldn’t visit as he could have done in normal times.

Kate with Ronnie and her mum
Kate with Ronnie and her mum
Kate, Dan and baby Ronnie
Kate, Dan and baby Ronnie

“These were supposed to be the best days of our lives with our new baby and it turned into one of the worst,” Kate said.

“Obviously, we are really happy to have Ronnie who is healthy and such a cheerful, loving little boy, but we have been through so much, it’s been hard.”

Lasting affects

From a super fit runner and keep fit fan, Kate is now constantly exhausted and goes into hospital three times a week for dialysis – which she describes as hell – while waiting for a transplant match.

With her kidney function fluctuating at around four to 12 per cent, dialysis nausea, exhaustion, and a baby to take care of, Kate can often feel like she is running on empty.

Kate and Dan know they are lucky to have supportive family around them and have no idea how people cope if they don’t have that strong network to shore them up.

“Waiting for a transplant is frustrating. I can’t wait to get my life back to more of a sense of normal. I can’t wait to take Ronnie swimming and not have to be tethered to a machine three times a week, having dialysis that makes me feel like I have run a marathon with flu.”

Showing support

Meanwhile, family members are having tests to see if they are a kidney donor match and Kate and Dan have a team of fundraisers showing them support by raising money for Kidney Research UK.

Dan's mum Nanny Helen
Dan's mum Nanny Helen
Baby Ronnie in hospital

Friends Kirsty, Sarah, Andrew and Rosie are doing the 850 Challenge, while pal Lisa is crocheting a blanket for auction. and Lisa’s 17-year-old son Jason has run 50K in 10 days.

Kate’s brother James is also completing the 850 Challenge with help and support on the bike rides from wife Emma and children Phoebe, 11, and Jack, 9 to help raise vital fund for life-saving research.

Kate said: “Research is vital to stop people having to go through this hell of dialysis.

"I’d love it if people don’t have to be reliant on dialysis machines, not have to worry about getting their access line wet in a shower or not be able to take their children swimming or go on holiday.

"Dialysis means life is on hold. I’m lucky to be here, but if drugs could have fewer side effects, that would be brilliant.

"I was fit and healthy and was always the one running half marathons, mud runs and doing things for charity and asking for donations. Now the tables have turned, and everyone is doing it for me."

“It feels a bit weird, but also I’m really humbled by it. I’m really grateful to my family and friends who’ve rallied round to fund raise to show they care.”

“Knowing everyone is doing that for me feels quite overwhelming. Also. I’m grateful to know they care enough to pull out the stops like this.”

Follow Kate's friends and family's fund raising pages for more information:

Sarah  Rosie  Kirsty James

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