If I hadn't had a second opinion I might not have survived my kidney problems
One adult out of every 20 in Derbyshire will be diagnosed with a chronic kidney disease, according to figures by Kidney Research UK. Caroline Jones spoke to one family about how the condition affected them.
AFTER months of feeling unwell when he was seven years old, Damon Bullimore was told by doctors he probably had appendicitis.
Arrangements were made for him to have his appendix removed and he was prepped for the operation.
But, at the last minute, another expert decided to take a second look at him – a decision which Damon, now 35, reckons saved his life. He said: "This man diagnosed me differently because he thought I actually had a kidney problem.
"And he was right, because I had this blockage which was stopping it from working properly and causing poison to seep into my system.
"If they hadn't realised this, I don't think I would have survived – it was definitely touch and go because I'd been unwell for about six months."
It took Damon, of Larkfields Crescent, Swanwick, about a year to recover following the diagnosis.
This was because his condition almost led to him losing both kidneys and he had to undergo 20-hour operations to save and repair them.
Damon said: "I was really unlucky because, during this time, the other side went as well and, between the ages of seven and eight, I was in a lot of pain.
"I did make a full recovery – although my kidneys are still twice the size of the average man – but I missed a lot of school and they told me I would be an underachiever because of this.
"But I still worked hard. I was good at sport and I got a degree – today, I very much lead a normal life.
"The people I felt most sorry for at the time were my parents, because I was in a bad way and it must have been so difficult for them to watch me go through it."
And Damon knows exactly what it is like to be an anxious parent – after both his children Olivia, 13, and Mason, 10, were also diagnosed with kidney problems.
Their problems were discovered while they were in the womb.
Damon said: "Because of the advances in kidney research and technology, it meant they could actually be treated for their problems before they were born too.
"As a result, Olivia has been completely discharged and will not need operations at all, which is wonderful.
"Mason is still having ultrasound checks every few months and may need an operation in the future."
Today, Damon is a director at Brief Your Market – an e-marketing business based in Derby. Because of his experiences, the firm has been supporting national charity Kidney Research UK.
Damon said: "We gave our software free of charge to them and are pleased to support them because it is a charity close to my heart."
Throughout March, Kidney Research UK is trying to raise awareness of life-threatening kidney diseases. World Kidney Day is on Thursday.
As part of this, it has organised a Go Purple campaign and is asking people to arrange purple-themed events to promote it.
They have also released figures to highlight the effect of kidney diseases in Derby and Derbyshire – including the fact one person out of every 20 in Derbyshire will be diagnosed with one.
It also said more than 450 patients in Derby are undergoing dialysis treatment or care following a transplant, compared to about 320 two years ago.
Stuart Wyle, Kidney Research UK's fund-raising manager for Derby and the East Midlands, said: "Kidney disease is a devastating illness and the number of people affected by it continues to rise by more than 5% every year."