Living through a global pandemic has brought home just how fragile and important our health can be. With the lifting of restrictions, many people will enjoy a return to more normal times. For others living with long-term health conditions such as organ failure however, life is closer to a permanent lockdown.

This week is NHS Organ Donation Week, in which the NHS and charities encourage people to register, and talk with their families about their wishes. Before last year, I didn’t know much about organ donation until it affected me personally.

My own experience of organ failure happened quite suddenly…

Last year at Christmas time, I wrote about my experiences of sudden kidney and heart failure earlier last year and living on dialysis. While I was grateful to have survived this experience, my life changed completely. I felt exhausted nearly all of the time and was restricted in what I could drink and eat and where I could go.

At the beginning of this year I was pessimistic about returning to my old life any time soon. But then I was extremely fortunate to be given the opportunity to learn to do haemodialysis at home. I was the first patient…

It began with a feeling of queasiness. I knew something was wrong, although not quite wrong enough to feel serious. In a few days, the queasiness became nausea. In a week, it became the most overpowering nausea I had ever experienced. In a few weeks, I was taken to hospital and told that my kidneys had failed completely.

Around 63,000 people in the UK undergo treatment for kidney failure. Around 30,000 people, including me, are kept alive by a machine filtering our blood. Dialysis is a lifesaver, but also physically and mentally gruelling. …

Alex Taylor

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