When Oliver Cahill was eight he became ill with a chronic kidney condition that put him in hospital for months and he was lucky to survive.
It was a frightening and bewildering experience as he didn’t even know what a kidney was or how it worked at that stage in his life and explanations from doctors went straight over his head.
Now 28 and an ambassador for Kidney Research, the Huddersfield dad wants to raise £2,000 to buy 100 special books which explain kidney illnesses to young children and teenagers at Leeds Children’s Hospital, the regional specialist centre for young renal patients across West Yorkshire.
Oliver, 28, of Dalton, recalls: “When I was eight I came down with a bug but then I felt iller and iller until a few weeks later I was diagnosed with kidney failure at St James’ Hospital in Leeds. Both kidneys had stopped working and I’ll never really know what caused it.”
The impact on Oliver was devastating as he was in St James’ for three months and became so poorly he was taken to intensive care four times.
“When I was in intensive care close family were advised to go to see me so at times it was looking quite bleak,” Oliver added. “There were so many complications it was a really rough time.”
When he eventually recovered sufficiently to go home he had to return to St James’ three days a week for dialysis with each session taking up to eight hours.
This went on for at least a couple of years until he was put on a different kind of dialysis which meant he could have it at home and was hooked up to the machine for 10 hours a night seven nights a week.
Oliver was put on the transplant list and in September 2005 underwent a kidney transplant. The kidney worked well for 16 years but a couple of years ago Oliver suffered a setback due to a severe narrowing in a tube between his kidney and bladder so a stent was put in which needs replacing every six months under general anaesthetic to open up the tube.
As a Kidney Research ambassador Oliver is supporting a young boy called Charlie who has a severe kidney condition and needs a transplant.
Oliver said: “Waiting for a transplant and then finding out your new kidney is ready is daunting for children and their families.
“I remember I felt scared and worried about having dialysis and then finding out I was eligible for a kidney transplant. If there had been a book designed specifically for children to understand what was happening to me I know this would have eased my fear and caused less worry.”
Such books are now available through a not-for-profit company called Get Better Books. There is an illustrated book for younger children and a passport-style book aimed more at teenagers.
They cost around £20 each as they are written specially for each renal unit and Oliver wants to buy 100 for Leeds Children’s Hospital.
The books are written in ways children can easily understand, including diagrams, photos and information about the medical equipment needed from dialysis machines to catheters and cannulas along with general information such as the food kidney patients can and can’t eat. There are spaces for the patient’s family and medical staff to write messages too.
Get Better Books have specific books for all kinds of serious illnesses from operations to heart conditions.
Oliver has run his own Huddersfield company for the last six years, Opus property maintenance, who are specialists in heating, plumbing, bathrooms and boilers.
Several staff joined Oliver to do the gruelling Tough Mudder 10-mile assault course near Skipton last summer which raised more than £3,000 for Kidney Research.
Oliver and fiancé Emily Baxter have an 18-month-old daughter, Hallie, and Oliver is stepfather to Emily’s 11-year-old son, Ashton.
Oliver has a JustGiving page set up to raise the £2,000 and has already raised more than £700. To donate go to https://lnkd.in/eF2iAQMV
- Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.