Paul, Christine and Emma

Paul has X-linked Alport Syndrome and has had three transplants. For Paul and his family, the stability of work and looking forward to holidays have been very important in maintaining normal family life.

Paul and his brother were the first to be diagnosed with Alport Syndrome in their family. Paul was diagnosed at birth. Sadly his brother passed away at the age of 22 from an aneurysm.

Paul has had three kidney transplants to date. He developed kidney failure at the age of 10 and was on hospital based dialysis for approximately 5 years before he received his first transplant, which lasted 5 years. Subsequently, Paul decided to go back on home CAPD, then haemodialysis over a total of 5 years. His second transplant lasted for 14 years, which was followed by another 11 years of haemodialysis. Paul got his third kidney transplant recently, which he nicknamed Dave, following a common practice among transplant patients. Paul has also developed eye problems and hearing loss. The former was solved by a surgery, but hearing loss, Paul says, is very difficult. His first pair of hearing aids was provided by the NHS, but he hardly wore them. He has private ones at the moment, which are of better quality and feel more discrete. However, he is aware that not everyone can afford to have private hearing aids. Therefore he hopes that the NHS would find a way to collaborate with private companies to provide people with more financially feasible solutions.

Being on dialysis for nearly 20 years in total was both mentally and physically taxing for Paul and his family. Yet, Paul is aware that transplantation is not a cure. He follows strict drug regimes, and he has been struggling with various health problems, such as stomach pains that he hopes will cease once his post-transplant medication is adjusted. Paul feels he has witnessed major improvements in drug treatment over the past few decades. Still, he maintains that taking medication is like keeping a fine balance between protecting the transplanted kidney and poisoning’ the body. Paul has full trust in his consultants when it comes to treatment. He also prefers to get his Alport Syndrome-related information from his doctors rather than look on the Internet.

Paul’s wife, Christine believes, life is still out there‚ to get on with. Paul and Christine got married after Paul’s second transplant. They have two children: their son is not affected, but their daughter, Emma, carries the Alport gene. Paul and Christine have always tried to maintain a normal family life. On the other hand, they think their children should grow up understanding what’s going on. Emma is fully aware of how Alport Syndrome will affect her in the future, and she intends to consult with a geneticist before she decides about having children.

Even when he was on dialysis, Paul enjoyed holidays abroad with his family. Such holidays required a lot of planning with regards to arranging health insurance and dialysis sessions at foreign hospitals, all of which were financially demanding. Yet, for Paul it has been crucial to have something to look forward to, as these were the things that keep you going. Work has been a very important aspect of dealing with Alport Syndrome for Paul. He considers himself lucky; his employer and colleagues have been fully supportive throughout these years, which made it possible for him to continue working full-time. Paul himself also wanted to keep working, as it provided him with a day-day routine as well as a purpose, so he could pull through the difficult times.

Paul feels reluctant about peer support. Personally, he prefers to do as little as possible with hospitals or kidneys, which, he reflects, is a defence mechanism‚ against the whole disease. He notes: I don’t want to talk to someone else about kidneys, I want to talk about football or politics, ‚or other stuff. Christine agrees: if you’ve got to fill up sixty per cent of your life with dialysis and hospital appointments, ‚you want the other forty per cent to be something completely different. Still, given his experience, Paul feels that he could help others with similar health issues. He makes sure to post positive messages on online peer support forums from time to time. He is also active in fundraising and awareness-raising campaigns.

Paul says not to give up and to keep fighting.

Paul and Christine discuss Paul’s eyesight and whether his cataracts were caused by medication or Alport Syndrome.

Paul says he feels it’s important to have something to fight for and a constant like work.

Paul says his work have backed him all the way’ through 3 transplants and 17 years of kidney dialysis.

Paul and Christine talk about how they used the company Freedom to arrange dialysis abroad.

Christine met Paul at work when he was on dialysis so she knew and accepted his illness from the start.

Paul and Christine said it was nerve-wracking when Paul did dialysis abroad on their family holidays.

When Paul and Christine got the call which then didn’t go ahead they actually felt very positive leaving the hospital.

Paul and Christine talk about how Alport Syndrome has affected Paul and how he has dealt with it.

Paul and Christine talk about their feelings about going privately and being on the NHS.

Paul, Christine and Emma discuss how Emma has positive choices’ when considering family planning in the future.

Paul, Christine and Emma discuss Emma being able to have IVF in the future.

Paul talks about his medication changing over the years depending on what stage he was at.

Paul and Christine explain how Paul had dialysis in between his three transplants.

Paul and Christine said they had genetic counselling before starting a family.

Paul, Christine and Emma talk about Emma getting symptoms in the future.