My Transplant Journey

It should be noted – whilst this post is all about Steve Caddick’s own personal journey, every transplant and transplant patient is different.

My kidney transplant

I’m a married male in my mid-fifties, and I’ve had renal problems from birth. Luckily, it wasn’t until I was sixteen that my kidneys finally failed, and I was introduced to dialysis.

Coming back to 2022, I get the call that transplant patients on the waiting list hope for. Att 2am on the morning of 12th of October my mobile rang “Mr Caddick, we have a kidney available would you like to accept it?” A bleary-eyed Mr Caddick replied “erm yes that would be most appreciated!” Yes, I did say that to my own surprise and more to the surprise of the transplant coordinator, after a pause she said it’s not arrived at the hospital (the kidney) so if you could get to ward 36 by 5am we will have a bed waiting.

I turned to a beautiful, but deeply asleep wife, “hey Hun Manchester Royal Infirmary has just telephoned, and they have a possible kidney available. We need to be at the hospital at for 5am. “What time is it” she asks “erm just turned 2am” I replied “Thanks for waking me up” or words to that effect! We are only 20 minutes away from the MRI!

I’ll condense the next 30 hours waiting time to a few short sentences.

The kidney took quite some time to arrive. This being my 3rd transplant cross matching took longer than standard and obviously theatre time is taken into consideration. I was kept up to date all the way through my waiting time by the staff. Because of Covid restrictions I wasn’t allowed visitors at all, but essential staff came into my side room for the various tests.

On the morning of the 13th October I was taken to theatre. It was a difficult operation, I had my first transplant removed some 30 years previously, there was a lot of scar tissue from previous operations, and they had to move my bowel around to make space for the kidney. But it was successful.

As I have alluded to previously this is my kidney transplant journey.

Every kidney transplant is unique and mine is somewhat involved and complex, so the following is not standard.

After 30 hours ischemic time (period between chilling the organ by reduced blood flow and the time it’s warmed up by having the blood flow restored) the kidney was, I think the technical term is rather “sleepy” i.e. it didn’t begin producing urine for 8 days. I understand for a kidney transplant that responds immediately the hospital stay can be as little as 5 days! I spent 28 days on ward 36.

I wish I could say I felt better from day one. I didn’t – biologically, physically and mentally. The first couple of days I was on a selfmedication pain relief pump, my transplant site was rather painful, all normal considering the theatre time and complexity of the operation. In my case I had a few neck lines in for blood retrieval various antibiotic treatments and saline. I had a catheter in to my bladder and a drain from the new kidney site. My dear wife and one other nominated person came to see me from day one (Covid restrictions were still in force at the time of writing).

I had to have regular dialysis treatment for 10 days before the sleepy kidney began to wake up although the kidney began producing urine after 8 days my creatinine levels remained stubbornly high (over 1000) for a week or so more. I won’t go into the individual concerns over my transplant, but I believe the nephrologist had only seen 5 cases like mine over the past 6 years.

We see our consultants at our check-up times, we don’t often see how much work they put in ‘behind the scenes’. I’m indebted to those doctors, consultants, nephrologists on ward 36 for the very hard work they did on my behalf to get a sleepy kidney, to wake up. Indeed, I must give a special mention to all the staff on ward 36 from the ward clerk to the cleaning staff to the catering staff to the nurses, to the management. If I named all of them this account would fill a book. Being a long-term patient, I was available to observe how hard they all work.

3 months later

3 months on and I’m off dialysis. Creatinine is around 300 but coming down every bi-weekly hospital appointment. I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on my journey there was a lot of pain a lot of incredibly highs and incredibly lows but just phases we have to go through on our journeys The medical staff can fix the transplant patient both biologically and physically it’s a lot harder to fix ourselves mentally. Being a longterm patient, all the staff helped me through the dark mental phases I went through. It’s because I told them I was feeling low or depressed they were able to help. Because I discussed my mental health issues with my family, friends and my councillor they were able to support me through. It’s something I will take forward and learn from.


Steve is a member of MRI KPA’s Committee.