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Eastleigh family gives hope to others after their kidney patient mum defied Covid

14 July 2021

A family is celebrating the recovery of their mum whose kidney was removed, then surgery for a blocked intestine, followed by a battle against Covid-19 in intensive care – all in less than a year. 

Alison Bennett, 59, who has polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is learning to walk, talk and eat again after 99 days in hospital fighting Covid-19. 

Now, her family are sending a huge thank you to the nursing staff for their incredible care, including holding a mobile phone to Alison’s ear while she was in intensive care, so she could hear messages of love, urging her to fight for her life. 

Alison Bennett and family
Alison Bennett with her family after 99 days in hospital.

Life before the pandemic

Alison’s daughter Natalie Bundle, 32, who also has PKD, said: “After a storm there is a rainbow, and our mum is that beautiful rainbow showing us that miracles do happen and with hope and love anything is possible.  

“Even with only one poorly kidney, Mum defied this terrible virus. It gives hope that although we have PKD it should not stop us doing anything.  

“Life is for living and I’m sure Mum will now live to its fullest. She stared Covid in the face and won! My family would like to thank every single NHS staff member who helped bring Mum home.”  

Alison was diagnosed with PKD 13 years ago at the age of 46. A few years later her daughters Natalie, Danielle Frost, 29, and Nicole Temple, 27, were diagnosed with the same condition. 

A former children’s pre-school owner, Alison, of Eastleigh in Hampshire, had experienced kidney function deterioration but it was only in the last three years it began to have an impact on her life, with a swollen tummy, feeling tired and loss of appetite.  

“Mum took early retirement from owning a pre-school in Eastleigh as trying to juggle her condition and her job was becoming harder to manage,” Natalie said.  

“Things were looking up for Mum, she had a potential kidney donor who was being tested to see if they were a match and she was enjoying retirement. Then the pandemic hit.” 

The world came crashing down

Alison was taken into hospital in April 2020 suffering terrible pains, to find a cyst in her kidney had become infected.  

One of her kidneys was removed, leaving her with only one poorly kidney.  

Dialysis began and, although going into hospital during a pandemic was worrying, life returned to a new normal of shielding and waiting for the news of a possible vaccine.  

“On Christmas Day Mum had severe stomach pains. She went into hospital where they found a blocked intestine from excessive scar tissue, a possible side effect from the kidney extraction earlier in the year.”  

Alison had surgery on Boxing Day but after three weeks in hospital she tested positive for Covid-19.  

“Our world came crashing down. Mum was so vulnerable, already weak, and would have to face this virus alone.” 

Things got worse when she contracted a stomach and chest infection which sent her body crashing into shut down causing her lungs to progressively fail. 

The family were called in to discuss end of life care and it was decided to place Alison on a ventilator to give her body the best chance to recover. 

Alison Bennett in hospital
Alison in hospital with daughter Natalie.

“It was an horrendous two weeks, but the nurses were fantastic at allowing us to talk to Mum by putting the phone to her ear, in the hope she could hear our voices and keep fighting. Mum started to make tiny improvements and respond to the treatment.”  

Alison was gradually brought out of sedation and given a tracheotomy to ease her off the ventilator so she could learn to breath on her own again.  

“Mum’s strength, will and determination continued to shine and when Mum  called me on Facetime and said, “hello Nat” I can honestly say I will never forget those two simple words.”  

Alison Bennett with her family
Alison with her family.

The ultimate warrior

After being bed bound for such a long time, Alison suffers muscle wastage and is now suffering with problems lifting the front part of her foot, however, with lots of physiotherapy her foot should slowly recover.  

“The strength, bravery and determination Mum has shown makes me burst with pride. She is the most incredible person I know, and I am proud to call her MY mum.  

“We never gave up hope and nor did she, even when just breathing was such a struggle. Mum is the jewel in our crown and the glue that keeps our family together.  

“The last three months have been the worst time our family has ever experienced but we have grown closer and one thing is for sure – we will never take our mum for granted again! She is the ultimate warrior!”  

The family are passionate to help others and have fund raised for their local kidney unit at the QA hospital in Portsmouth (pre Covid-19). Natalie’s dad’s masonic lodge also donated a dialysis chair for the unit.  

The race begins

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