Posted on Thursday 13 March 2014
Karim Lazli with Marilyn Millington, a phlebotomist responsible for collecting blood samples.
Karim Lazli, 43, counts himself a lucky man – he’s had not one, but two kidney transplants.
Today is World Kidney Day, and Karim wants to raise awareness of the organ donor register.
“The phone calls telling you they’ve found a match are amazing. You’re excited that you’re going to live again, going to be free. It feels like you’re going to be reborn,” he says. “Even though I was unlucky to have kidney failure, I’m lucky to have had two matches – so many people never get the call.”
“The other dialysis patients are like family now. You spend so much time together, help and support each other. I wish they could all have a transplant too – I tell people all the time about the donor register because you can’t keep organs back when people need them.”
In 2002, Karim’s kidneys failed due to an infection. “It was a big surprise – I’d never been really ill, was fit and played football,” says Karim. “I was pale and vomiting so went to my GP who did some blood tests.”
When the results came in the GP acted immediately, visiting Karim at home even though it was a Saturday. “He handed me my referral letter and told me to go to Lewisham Hospital immediately – he’d already spoken to the staff there so they were expecting me.”
Within days Karim’s kidneys had failed and he needed dialysis to remove waste, salt and extra water from his blood. He was referred to the kidney specialists at Guy’s.
Karim chose peritoneal dialysis, a home based treatment that allows you to carry on with normal daily routines whilst dialysing. This meant he could manage the process himself and continue working as a concierge at the Connaught Hotel.
“My work was so supportive. They made sure I had the facilities I needed to be able to dialyse at work and even had the company doctor check me out every few weeks,” says Karim.
A match is found…
In 2003, after a year on dialysis, Karim got the call to tell him a kidney from a deceased donor was a match. “Life was easier again – I didn’t have to plan day trips and holidays around changing my dialysis fluid.”
In 2007, Karim caught a virus and his donor kidney failed.
He went back to peritoneal dialysis, but it did not work as well as before and he had to go to the satellite dialysis clinic at Forest Hill three times a week for haemodialysis instead, where a machine dialyses your blood for you.
This time, Karim had to give up work. “On a Monday, Wednesday and Friday you spend the whole morning having haemodialysis, and afterwards it’s an effort to do anything. You’re so wiped out that you want go straight to bed.”
In November 2012 Karim had his second kidney transplant at Guy’s – again from a deceased donor.
“I just want to thank them and their families, I want to be able to do something for them, but I can’t because it’s anonymous. It’s such a gift to have a transplant.”
He was better prepared having been through it once before. “It’s so liberating because you can eat and drink what you want again, but you should still be careful. You have to take care of yourself and the kidney. I went back to the gym three months after the transplant, I have an exercise bike at home, I play basketball and go swimming.”
Organ donor register
There are 7,000 people in the UK on the organ transplant list, and every day three of them die or become too sick to receive a transplant.
Today is World Kidney Day, show your support by joining the organ donor register.