A MUM-OF-FIVE has made a heartbreaking plea for a kidney donor to come forward so she can start to ‘live again’ rather than just be ‘kept alive’.
Ann Gath, 42, of Ardsley, was diagnosed in 2017 with a rare genetic kidney disease called autosmal dominant tubulointersitital kidney disease (ATKD-umod).
She told the Chronicle: “It all started when my mum went to the doctor saying that she hadn’t been feeling well and they confirmed that she had kidney problems.
“She was adopted when she was younger so we didn’t really know if there were any kidney problems in the family and so the doctors at the genetic clinic in Sheffield researched her family tree and asked me, my brother and my sister to be monitored.
“I didn’t think much of it until I got pregnant with my fifth child, Saffron, and I became really poorly during the pregnancy, having to be induced early.
“My kidneys were then okay for about a year after until I was diagnosed with the kidney disease in 2017.”
Ann kept extremely fit and wasn’t drinking or smoking but her kidney failed in March this year at just 41.
She’s been on hemodialyisis since June and has been attending her local dialysis unit three times a week for four hours - a treatment she described as the hardest thing she’s ever experienced, and she feels that her spirit is ‘slowly being chipped away’.
“Before my kidneys failed in March I was walking six miles three times a week and now I’m struggling and can become weak very quickly,” she added.
“I’ve got five children and when I think about what I used to be able to do with the oldest three - 18-year-old Holly, 16-year-old Poppy and 13-year-old Erin - it’s frustrating because I can’t do that with the youngest, eight-year-old Gabriel and six-year-old Saffron.
“This seems a cruel and unfair twist to my journey, yet I’m determined to face it with optimism.
“Each of them have a 50 per cent chance of inheriting this disease and I wanted to show them that not only can you approach this illness with a positive outlook, you can still have a happy and fulfilling life.”
Ann says when she was originally diagnosed she felt down about the situation and decided to take her journey into student nursing - a path which she wanted to take when she was younger, but she never decided to apply for midwifery as she didn’t have confidence in herself.
But she’s now about to enter her third year of nursing at Sheffield Hallam University and hopes that she’ll be able to complete her degree - though she admits she’s facing the reality that she can’t start to build the career she wants and be the mum she wants to be all whilst facing the challenges of living with kidney failure.
She posted an appeal online to help her find a kidney donor - with the current waiting list averaging at around three years - and she’s hopeful that even if she herself can’t find a match, that it will encourage others to help.
“My blood type is ‘O-’ and I can accept ‘O-’ kidneys,” she added.
“I was really hesitant to ask at fist because I wouldn’t want anyone to ever be in the same situation as me.
“But then I started to speak to the consultants about it and they said something that swung me over - when people donate a kidney the health benefits are usually greater because they feel so good about themselves that they’ve done it.
“A woman I’ve spoke to online said that she found her donor on Facebook and I’ve been so overwhelmed by the support so far - I’ve been replying to messages all day.
“If anyone has ever thought about donating a kidney or if they’ve donated blood before they say that this is the next step up.
“It would mean so much - I’m not the only person with this heartbreaking illness - even if I’m not a match there’s a kidney swap program which could help someone else and set off a multi-recipient chain.
“Dialysis is hard, I’m not living I’m just being kept alive - I feel like my life is on hold.
“I don’t want to leave my family without a mother - I fear for that more than I fear for my life.”