Lifestyle

Kelly lives with fear disease will return

DAILY CHORE: Kelly Dawson of North Booval requires regular blood dialysis treatment after her kidneys were damaged by a rare genetic blood disease.
DAILY CHORE: Kelly Dawson of North Booval requires regular blood dialysis treatment after her kidneys were damaged by a rare genetic blood disease. David Nielsen

KELLY Dawson faces each day with the fear that a devastating disease that turned her life into nightmare will attack again.

Ms Dawson, 44, from North Booval, is battling a very rare, life-threatening genetic blood disease, aHUS, that can damage vital organs such as the kidneys, heart and brain.

"The original bout I had was 15 years ago and at the moment I'm in remission," Ms Dawson said.

"I was doing first stages of IVF at the time and pregnancy can be a trigger of the syndrome. I wasn't pregnant but I had all the hormones raging in my body as if I was.

"At that time there was hardly anything known about it. Since then they've realised I have a genetic predisposition to it. We looked back in our family history and I had an aunt who died at the same age I was of unexplained renal failure and not long after I had it, my cousin developed it and died."

She was in hospital for seven weeks, in a coma for a week, on life support and in intensive care for three weeks.

"I had total organ shutdown and they were telling my family to prepare for the worst," she said.

"I guess the upshot of it is I survived but my kidneys didn't survive so I've been on dialysis ever since."

Spending three hours five or six times a week on a dialysis machine meant she had to give up working, her first husband left her 18 months after she got sick and she endures chronic migraines, anaemia and bouts of vomiting.

"Initially when I had the disease they said if you don't get a recurrence in the first 10 years you probably never will. But now they say you can get a recurrence at any time," Ms Dawson said.

"It's just a constant nightmare for me to think it's going to come back. I'm just terrified of it.

"The other thing I worry about is the next generation. I don't have any children but I'm very close to my niece and nephew, my sister, my cousins and their children. I try not to dwell on the fact that I could get a recurrence but I have to stay on dialysis; I can't have a kidney transplant because they use drugs that suppress your immune system and that is known to trigger AHUS."

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