Ifybella Kidney Charity existed out of a TRUE life experience of a kidney failure survivor following a successful kidney transplantation.
Five years ago, I was a normal, healthy and happy young mother and a sister. I had a husband and a stable marriage. I worked long hours in healthcare setting, however this was to be expected as part of a family making its way in a new country.
It was about this point that I started to feel tired and to experience backaches.
Initially, I put this down to the nature of the job and the hours that I worked, however soon, I sought medical advice. Initially, my condition was thought to be simply a minor ailment, however following tests at Milton Keynes hospital and Oxford, it was noticed by the medical practitioners that my renal function was seriously impaired.
It seems that high blood pressure during my first pregnancy which led to pre-eclampsia, had destroyed the renal function in one kidney and almost no function left in the second.
Overnight, my life was changed.
Tests followed/after tests were carried out until eventually, I was prescribed dialysis for 8 hours in every 24. That meant that an operation was carried out to insert peritoneal exchange equipment and a catheter, or tube permanently protruding from my stomach. The catheter had to be cleaned and the wound disinfected and dressed on a daily basis.In order to remain alive, each night I had to connect to a noisy machine which drew peritoneal dialysis fluid through the catheter into my body for purification and replaced it with a fresh, clear man-made solution. I was often dizzy and very ill and on many occasions it was simply impossible to get out of bed. On four occasions I fainted and fell down the stairs, nevertheless, I carried on working and caring for the children. This would be my life for three years, my body gradually deteriorating and failing whilst I waited and prayed for a matching kidney to become available. The inevitable pain, fear, sickness and constant night disturbances while the machine cleansed my body were relentless. Upon visiting me from Nigeria, my mother saw how poorly I was and simply remained in England in order to look after me. She cried daily, every night whilst connected to the dialysis machine, my mum will be awake to support me fearful for my life, however she nursed me constantly and looked after me and the children when I was simply not able to. She prayed each and every day that God would spare me from this hell and would return my life to me. Eventually, in July 2015 as my condition worsened, miraculously a kidney became available which was a perfect match and was transplanted into my body.
The slow process of recovery began and continues to do so. What is plain to see however is that I am recovering? I no longer need dialysis and the donor-kidney is working well and has restored my renal function to normal. I would like to thank my Mum for the untold hours she spent looking after me and all the nurses and medical staff, each of whose skills, kindness and faith and dedication kept me going through those long years and whose wonderful work has made me well again. Now, during the time of my illness, I learned a great deal about renal failure, its diagnosis and its treatment.
I learned that we Africans are particularly susceptible to kidney disease
I also discovered that it is very much a ‘taboo’ subject amongst Africans.
Little is generally known about the disease and too often, it is swept under the carpet. Too many Africans become seriously ill because diagnoses are left too late or not carried out at all. I want to change this. I therefore decided to launch a charity to tackle these issues. I don’t want others to suffer like I have for no reason.
God has given me my life back and I want to work to do his will. I want to give to you, my brothers and sisters, the knowledge to diagnose and to beat this awful disease.
This charity will initially carry out its work amongst the minority ethnic groups residing within the UK, Africans, Asians, Caribbean’s and many others. However as it matures, it is hoped that it will address these issues throughout Africa and across the globe.
The aim of my charity, ‘Ifybella Kidney Charity’, is to improve the following:
• Awareness of kidney disease – the need for regular health screening
• Prevention of kidney disease through adopting a healthy lifestyle – Healthy eating and hydration
• Treatment of kidney failure and malfunction
• Support of those who are diagnosed with kidney disease
• Encouragement to people to donate a kidney to save peoples’ lives
• To support kidney research
Together, and by the grace of God, we can make a difference to prevent the suffering of the affected people. We shall worktogether to improve the lives our people by creating the awareness of this disease, of its management and in educating to eradicate the fear surrounding organ and tissue donation to general public.
By removing this fear, we shall encourage families to consider the simple and safe gift of organ donation to keep their loved ones alive.
Finally, I want you to share in this day to celebrate my recovery and thanks to God for his grace in keeping me alive during my illness and in answering ourprayers with the miracle of making me well again.