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Patient story: Stephen

Addenbrooke's patient and filmmaker, Stephen Higgins, is exploring the benefits of home dialysis in his new video series.

Stephen is creating a series of short videos for the National Kidney Federation (NKF) discussing his experience of chronic kidney disease.

He has dialysis four times a week, for three hours at the Bury St Edmunds unit, run by Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH).

Stephen Higgins was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease at CUH

I was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease after being admitted to A&E for food poisoning

Stephen Higgins, a patient who recieves dialysis at CUH

After visiting Addenbrooke's emergency department for severe food poisioning, Stephen's life changed.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a long-term condition where the kidneys don't work as well as they should. There are usually no symptoms in the early stages.

It may only be diagnosed if you have a blood or urine test for another reason and the results show a possible problem with your kidneys.

Being diagnosed with CKD can have an impact on all aspects of a patient's life, Stephen says:

"My work were very understanding giving me time off for dialysis. I was on the twilight shift then, but it was a lot to come to dialysis then go to work in the morning. When I had the chance to leave full time work, I did."

Balancing being an avid member of Bury St Edmunds for Black Lives, a vocalist and starting up his own video production company, Stephen has to consider his dialysis appointments when travelling for his work and passions.

For him, switching to home dialysis could make a big difference.

Where it's safe and people are able, they should be encouraged to do their treatment from home

He added: "Not only does it mean you get the freedom, but it also frees up beds on the unit for people who're unable to have dialysis at home."

Stephen is creating a series of videos on his journey to a more flexible approach to receiving treatment.

He's hoping this will encourage more patients like him to take up home dialysis.

More about home dialysis

NKF are running a national campaign to increase home dialysis in the UK. It includes a focus on the disproportionate impact Covid-19 has had on dialysis patients.

Benefits of switching to home dialysis include:

  • It is easier to fit your treatment around your life, which can have huge benefits for your mental health
  • You have more freedom than in-centre patients in choosing your own dialysis schedule
  • It reduces the risk of infection for patients

For more information, visit the National Kidney Federation.