The importance of family support for chronic kidney disease patients

Khiry Hopkins, 32, from the United Kingdom, shares his journey with Lupus, which affected his kidneys to the extent that he had to undergo a kidney transplant. After a first failed transplant he received a second successful kidney transplant, thanks to the unwavering support of his family.

My name is Khiry, I am 32 years old, and my heritage is Grenadian and Jamaican, but I was born in the UK. A few fun facts about me: I am a huge Manchester United fan, I survived three heart attacks in 2019, and my family refers to me as “Bionic Man” because of my strength. Unfortunately, due to my health issues in recent years, I had to resign from my position as a Children’s Activity Leader, but I am hoping to return to work this year.

My chronic kidney disease journey began in 2009 when I suddenly started to experience joint pains throughout my body. I didn’t think anything of it at the time because I was a young adult, but after suffering for a few weeks, I decided it would be best to seek medical advice. Initially, the doctor prescribed some anti-inflammatory medication, but after taking them for the recommended amount of time, they made no difference.

As a result, I was referred to Ealing Hospital, where they performed additional tests, including a blood test and a urine sample. The doctor also stated that he was 95% certain that my condition was caused by lupus. After a few weeks, I received the results and they confirmed that I had lupus, which is an autoimmune disease that can affect various parts of the body. In my case, my kidneys were affected, and I required a kidney transplant which was donated by my grandfather. Unfortunately, the kidney was rejected after a year, and I needed dialysis for 10 months while waiting for my second transplant. My father donated his kidney to me in 2013, and it is thankfully still functioning today. 

The pandemic was a difficult time for me because I received the dreaded letter about self-isolation for 12 weeks as a vulnerable person.

As a result, I was unable to see my family and friends, nor could I attend my hospital check-ups.
My mother would have to come to my house once a week to take my blood and deliver it to the hospital.

However, the pandemic gave me the opportunity to start my own YouTube channel, which I had wanted to do for a long time and where I documented my health journey. I also started a Manchester United podcast with other enthusiastic fans to discuss game results.

In regard to support, I thought it would be a good idea to get my mother’s point of view on how she and my family dealt with my kidney health issues: “Everything that has happened to Khiry, our family was not prepared for as it was unexpected but when things do arise, we as a family are all very supportive. We would have a shift pattern when Khiry was in the hospital to ensure we were all able to visit him and provide support alongside our everyday lives“.

In conclusion, especially in the first years following my diagnosis, it would have been beneficial to have support groups for more in-depth discussions surrounding my diagnosis. This additional help may have benefited not only me but also my family. It was only as I got older that I was introduced to support groups and ended up making friends for life through organized trips with people who had been through similar experiences that I had.