By Alyce Collins
THIS WOMAN’S dream holiday to Bali turned into a nightmare when she was diagnosed with a rare kidney infection which left her on dialysis for a year, until her life-saving kidney transplant.
Holly Kirk (27) from Melbourne, Australia, was flying high while working for one of the biggest banks in Australia as a Sales Associate in the Mortgage Broking department, until her holiday to Bali left her with a rare kidney disease which turned her life around.
Holly was born with the rare kidney disease called thin based membrane disease, a benign condition which affects the body’s immunity, meaning Holly always had to take extra precaution with her health throughout her life.
Her extra awareness allowed Holly to pay more attention to her health and fitness and she would regularly go to the gym and achieve new personal bests. This was until she was diagnosed with an infective disease on top of her manageable kidney disease.
In February 2017 Holly took a trip to Bali and she assumed the local cuisine and change of water were to blame for her bloated belly and her feeling slightly unwell. However, after five days of sickness once she returned home, Holly went for a precautionary blood test at her doctors, which revealed she’d contracted an infection which had spread to her kidneys and destroyed their function to just seven per cent.
“When I got back from Bali I still felt off, so I had a blood test to be safe. Then I got the call a few days later from my specialist, who never calls me, to say I needed to leave work immediately and go straight to hospital,” Holly explained.
“I was admitted to the ICU and put on dialysis a few hours after, fighting for my life for a few days.
“After being told how serious my illness had gotten so quickly, all that I was thinking in my head was ‘this is it for me, I’m going to die’”.
Holly spent the next year of her life on a dialysis machine at home which she would connect herself to every night while her friends were out celebrating and enjoying life in their twenties.
On April 17th, 2018, Holly had a kidney transplant to begin the next phase of her life in recovery.
“Before my surgery, I would lie in bed with no energy and just be feeling generally unwell and depressed because I was extremely isolated from the world,” said Holly.
“My dad was my kidney donor which I am forever grateful for because the average wait time for a new kidney for my tissue type is between five to six years.
“Recovery is hard, you think once the new kidney goes in you’ll be fine, but things take time to settle. Pain was a major problem I was dealing with, and I really struggled for the first month with the anti-rejection meds and immunosuppressant I’m on.
“I was vomiting and feeling nauseated all the time which made me unable to sleep.
“It was all a mess and I wondered if I’d made a mistake, I just desperately wanted this hell of a journey to be over, it had gone on so long and I was barely hanging on. Mentally, emotionally and physically I felt like I couldn’t go on.
“I hit the five-week mark and suddenly had this amazing zest for life and this intense energy, which my doctor told me was ‘normal’, that what I was feeling was what an average healthy person feels every day. That made me realise just how sick I had been for years because I didn’t recall ever feeling this way.”
Five weeks after her transplant surgery, Holly had another surgery to remove the tube in her stomach which was used for dialysis, and a removal of the stent between her new kidney and her bladder.
Throughout her turbulent experience, Holly has blogged about the effects of ‘silent diseases’ to raise awareness and to help other people who may be going through similar.
“All I want to do is help people and this experience has made me realise my calling in life. I was put here to inspire people to be positive.
“One thing that really got to me was when people would say ‘oh but you don’t look sick!’. Kidney disease is called a silent illness for a reason which is scary because what would have happened if I never got that blood test?
“I believe my journey is a blessing in disguise, it’s changed me for the better and I see life for what is really is. I have this intense passion to help people in similar situations, whether that is mental health or kidney disease, and I want to raise awareness about what silent diseases are all about.”
Holly continues to write about her experiences as a transplant survivor on her blog Dialysis Diaries, and on her Instagram @transplantsurvivor_inspirer.
For more information see www.mediadrumworld.com