‘My husband's kidney function is zero so dialysis is keeping him alive – he urgently needs a transplant'

Asia's Tech News Daily

Every morning, Kiran Sandhu wakes up grateful for another day with her husband Bally Singh Sandhu, who has been on the waiting list for a kidney transplant for three-and-a-half years.

The 51-year-old father-of-two from Leeds now has virtually zero kidney function and is being kept alive with dialysis, night and day.

Mrs Sandhu told i it was heartbreaking to watch a loved one deteriorating, knowing his fate lies in getting a suitably matched organ donor.

And she said it was disheartening for the family to see that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed up the size of the waiting list from 4,500 pre-pandemic to 7,000 now.

“You’re on this national waiting list and you know every time an organ becomes available, it goes to the closest match,” she said.

“But sometimes, that’s really hard to digest as when it’s your loved one affected, all you see is time marching on. Now, there are 7,000 people on the waiting list, we just don’t know when Bally’s turn for a transplant will come.

“We wake up grateful to God for another day and have to keep faith that a transplant will happen for Bally, even though Covid has brought so many new fears and pushed things back.”

© Provided by The i Bally Singh Sandhu, 51, with his wife Kiran and his son and daughter (Photo: Kiran Sandhu)

Mr Sandhu was diagnosed with renal failure 11 years ago after a routine blood test revealed major issues with his kidneys caused by diabetes. He was warned he would ultimately need dialysis and a transplant.

He began dialysis in 2019 every night, seven days a week. But his condition has deteriorated so much that he now needs dialysis for some hours during the day, too.

The true magnitude of the situation was highlighted to his family when his doctor suggested they launch an online appeal for a live kidney donor.

People can live a perfectly healthy life with just one kidney, so it is possible for people to donate a kidney to someone in need provided they are a match.

Mrs Sandhu said: “When the doctor first suggested an appeal, I was reluctant as it’s easier to ask someone for £1,000 than to ask: ‘Can we have a piece of you?’

“But the doctor was blunt and made it clear how serious it was and how not doing so could cost Bally’s life.”

The family launched the Kidney For Bally campaign and shared it online. Mrs Sandhu, together with her husband, their 22-year-old daughter, 18-year-old son and other family members, is now working hard to increase awareness of both deceased and living organ donation, particularly in the South Asian and harder-to-reach communities.

© Provided by The i 7,000 people are now on the kidney transplant waiting list (Photo: Kiran Sandhu)

“It has been a really rocky road and has been exhausting,” she said. “Bally was taken off the waiting list dsuring the pandemic in April last year and reactivated in August provided he agreed to take the risks of Covid.

“His kidney function is non-existent at zero, so he is fully dependent on dialysis and his need for a transplant is extremely urgent.”

Mrs Sandhu says her husband was adamant he didn’t want a kidney from a younger family member but various relatives were willingly tested. Sadly, no one has proved to be a match.

© Provided by The i Bally with his wife Kiran. She said: ‘I know it is traumatic to talk about donating organs, but people from all communities need to see beyond that and start saving people’ (Photo: Kiran Sandhu)

She believes the shortage of organ donation from black and Asian communities stems from people not understanding or talking about the issue until it affects them.

“Unless it is in your household, people usually know nothing about it or don’t understand the depth of the issue,” she said.

“It is about increasing education and awareness. Sikh and Hindu people are cremated so there are so many lives that could be saved by people donating their organs.

“We were told Bally faced a wait of around two-and-a-half years, but we are already one year past that. We have to keep believing it will happen for him.

“I know it is traumatic to talk about donating organs, but people from all communities need to see beyond that and start saving people such as those in Bally’s situation.”

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