Lingwood dad’s new year hope for life-giving kidney transplant

Joe Brown who has a rare condition which effects his kidneys. Pictured with his wife Hollie and two

Joe Brown who has a rare condition which effects his kidneys. Pictured with his wife Hollie and two sons Rickie and Freddie. Picture: James Bass - Credit: James Bass

Joe Brown was preparing for a wonderful Christmas with his family in Lingwood as he was in line to receive the gift of a life giving kidney.

But the dad of two’s hopes were dashed just days before the festive holidays after doctors called off the transplant, citing difficulties for his donor, and he is now back on a waiting list and undergoing lengthy dialysis sessions.

Despite the disappointment, however the 29 year old is facing the new year with optimism as he prepares for a fresh chapter in his lifelong struggle with the rare condition that has caused both his kidneys to shut down, and seen him already endure two transplants.

NHS contractors are now busy converting one of the rooms at his St Andrews Road home into a dialysis unit so Mr Brown can treat himself and save him having to travel to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital (N&N) three times a week, for four hourly sessions.

His home unit should be ready by the end of February and Mr Brown said he is looking forward to being able to treat himself.

“It’s a real pain (having to go to the N&N). I can be up there for 7.30am and by the time I get home it’s 12.30pm, it’s the whole morning and you’re just sitting on a bed,” he added. “I’d much rather be at home hanging out with my two little boys and wife.”

Mr Brown, dad to Rickie, three, and Freddie, one, suffers from Henoch–Schönlein purpura (HSP) - an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack itself.

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It first struck him at the tender age of 10 when rashes appeared all over his body and he suffered stomach cramps. He was in hospital for a week and doctors warned his parents the condition may crop up again and affect his kidneys in later life.

Their prediction was right; five years later his kidneys “gave up the ghost” and at the age of 16 he underwent his first transplant with a kidney donated by his mum. It lasted two and a half years and at 18 he went onto dialysis and the transplant list.

After four years of waiting he underwent his second transplant in 2006. His fourth kidney lasted five and a half years until March 2012 when his body again rejected the foreign organ and he returned to dialysis.

His sister in law’s boyfriend Alex then offered Mr Brown one of his kidneys. It was a compatible match, the transplant was progressed and all seemed to be going well until two weeks before Christmas when one of Alex’s final tests came back with bad results.

Mr Brown said: “It was to test his own kidney function and how well it would be with (just) one. It came back a bit dodgy and the transplant was called off.

“I know things are complicated, I have had HSP coming up 14 years and it’s just the cards I have been dealt with. It would have been great to have another transplant, dialysis is as pain but it’s not the worst thing in the world.

“Plenty of people are worse off than me, I can still work, go out and play with my children.”

Mr Brown, a technical operator with BBC Look East, is now back on the transplant list but is looking forward to the flexibility and independence home dialysis will give him while he waits for a fifth kidney.

He added: “I don’t produce any urine so have too monitor how much I drink, I can’t go out and have eight pints with my mates, it’s all a bit of a bind. Once I’ve got home dialysis, instead of four hours three times a week I’ll be able to do two hours six days a week, so can be more relaxed with my diet.

“It will be so much better than having it at the hospital, it’s just more freedom.”