KEN Edridge isn’t your regular looking angel, but as far as his partner Michelle is concerned, an angel is exactly what he is.
When Michelle Nicoll met Ken at a Gympie pub about 18 months ago, she didn’t tell him at first that she was suffering from kidney disease.
Before long, though, the two were an item, and when Ken found out about her condition, he immediately offered her the incredible gift of a healthy kidney.
“I looked at it like this,” Ken said. “We’re born with two kidneys, but we don’t need them both.
“So I thought well, if it means Michelle doesn’t have to go on dialysis then it’s worth it.”
Michelle’s kidneys, operating at 12 per cent, were dipping down close to a critical point. However, the vivacious five-foot brunette and her livewire partner had to face a considerable evaluation process before being considered as potential transplant donor and recipient.
First, Michelle had to lose a substantial amount of weight.
Due to her condition, a disease she was born with but not diagnosed until she was 18, the 42-year-old becomes breathless and cramps easily, so exercise is restricted.
What was needed was an affordable way to address her diet and get support from like-minded people.
Thanks to the Weight Reduction Club of Gympie, a non profit group, Michelle has shed 17.8 kilograms – going from a size 16/18 to a trim size 12. And she says she feels so much better.
Over the last six months she and Ken have also undergone a barrage of tests that are required to establish Ken’s health status and while Ken is not an exact match, medication can be taken to ensure Michelle’s body does not reject his kidney.
With the transplant just weeks away they are pencilled in to meet the transplant team.
Michelle is very aware that should her kidney function get down to 10 per cent, the stress on the other organs in her body will be too much and she will almost certainly have to go on dialysis, so getting this gift from Ken is very special.
The operation will transform Michelle’s life and she admits if she has half the energy and stamina of the 52-year-old Ken, she’ll be happy. “Thanks to Ken this means a whole new life for me,” she said.
While Michelle was born with kidney disease, many Australians develop kidney disease later in life as a result of diabetes.
Kidney Health Australia say Type 2 diabetes is the primary diagnosis causing kidney disease in 20 to 40 per cent of people starting treatment for end stage renal disease worldwide.
In Australia, the number of new Type 2 diabetes patients starting dialysis increased five-fold between 1993 and 2007.
Lifestyle changes can keep your kidneys healthy: eat lots of fruit and vegetables including legumes and grain-based food, eat only small amounts of salty or fatty food, drink plenty of water instead of other drinks, maintain a healthy weight, do at least 30 minutes of physical activity, don’t smoke, limit your alcohol intake, have your blood pressure checked regularly.