Mind, Body & Soul n

Thanks to the precious friend I’ve never met who has saved my life

Carpenter Chris Piper, 59, had a life-saving transplant less than two years ago after a lifetime of kidney problems. Now, he says, he is fitter than ever which is just as well with a young son, a wife 20 years his junior and a demanding job…

How are you?

I am very well, thank you. Never been better, in fact. Even at 59 years of age, I am actually fitter than I have ever been.

How is your health generally?

Very good, although the kidney anti-rejection drugs that I take can make me a lot more susceptible to getting colds and coughs but each day that passes makes you that little bit tougher. The drugs lower the body’s immune system so that it doesn’t reject the kidney but the strength of these is reduced as your new organ gets more accustomed to you.

How has your kidney disorder and transplant changed your life?

It was a lady (my donor) that saved my life…I did not know her and we’d never met. Can you ever have a friend as good as that? I did. The story started when I was six when I had kidney disease. The condition was never looked after properly and over the next decades it got gradually worse until 2004 I had a scan done privately and discovered I was down to 24% kidney function.

Panic set in and I started on lower protein diet, almost vegetarian, which slowed up the deterioration until it got to 6%. I needed a transplant desperately, so I went on peritoneum dialysis to keep me going. One day, out of the blue, I got a call from Guy’s Hospital to say a transplant kidney was available if I could get to London. We packed a bag, dashed to Staplehurst station and got to Waterloo East by 6.20pm but needed to be at Guy’s by 7pm. A kind-hearted London cabbie who put his hazard lights on to get through the traffic, beeping his horn. By 10.30pm, I was on my way into theatre...and thanks to a fantastic team at Guy’s I was home in four days!

Do you take any medicines?

In the morning, I have to take about 10 tablets – everything from aspirin to blood pressure pills. But, in all, I take about 15 or 16 tablets a day connected to the kidney transplant.

Have you ever considered herbal remedies?

No, not really. The doctors tell you to stay away from anything other than what is needed for your condition or which might react to the anti-rejection drugs.

Ever needed an osteopath or chiropractor?

Years ago, I used an osteopath and it did more harm than good. But a little while ago, I was carrying a gallon tin of paint and injured my left shoulder, causing nerve and muscle damage. So I went to the Southcote Chiropractic Clinic in Maidstone and the people there were absolutely fantastic. Within three sessions, I was totally fixed.

What, if any, exercise do you take?

I am in the building trade so I am on the go the whole time. I also have a demanding seven-year-old son, Alex, and my (Thai-born) wife who is 20 years my junior. I have plenty to keep me going! I probably get more exercise than people who go to the gym every day! I get up at 7am, I’m at work by 8am and home by about four. That suits me. I tell you, 12-hour days do you no good.

What are your vices?

I don’t drink and I don’t smoke. I stopped eating red meat years ago and the kidney isn’t keen on having too much protein. Fish was all that I would eat. So there was little damage to speak of to the arteries when I went to have the transplant.

What is the best piece of health advice anyone has ever given you and what advice would you give?

A lot of things are in the mind; someone once told me that if you think positively, you will stay positive. People who are miserable will end up with all sorts of illnesses. Stress is a big killer of people, so try to stay chilled out. Don’t worry about things too much because they usually sort themselves out in the end. Don’t eat rubbish food!

Would you like to live forever?

No. If you get to 80-odd or 90-odd, you’ve probably seen enough of the world to do you.

Mid Kent Living 35

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