Edinburgh man in desperate plea for kidney donor after 'life turned upside down'

An Edinburgh man is in a desperate plea for a kidney donor to help him get his life back on track after a hereditary condition has reduced him to being bed bound.

Tom Plenderleath, from Cannon Mills, found out at the age of 12 that he suffered from Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), the same condition that led to his father, Colin, requiring a kidney transplant.

Both Tom and his late elder brother were handed the diagnosis but it was not until the last six months that the 42-year-old’s life was turned upside down.

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The e-commerce boss has seen his life marred with personal tragedy, as he became his father’s primary carer two years after his mother, Patricia, died of soft tissue cancer aged 38.

Tom later lost his older brother, Jack, to a rare heart condition when his sibling was just 34 years old.

Thankfully his father was able to make a recovery after accessing a kidney transplant and Tom was able to pursue a career in business.

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The Edinburgh man describes being an extremely social, active and energetic person but around six months ago his PKD began to have a debilitating effect as one of his kidneys grew so large that it began to impact other organs.

Fast forward to today and Tom has been forced to move back to Edinburgh as he is placed on a three year waiting list for a deceased donor.

He faces the prospect of dialysis in the near future due to the long wait and his life being put on hold, unable to start a family or further his career.

This has led to him desperately issuing a plea for a live kidney donor to come forward and allow him to get back to leading a normal life.

“I grew up with my mum, dad and older brother who was two years older than me,” he said. “My mum passed away suddenly on my 10th birthday from soft tissue cancer and it was a couple of years after that when my dad’s health began to deteriorate.

“My grandad had PKD and it has passed down the line as it is a hereditary condition. PKD can lead to your kidney growing cysts and growing in size before it begins to suffocate your other internal organs.

“It did not impact me until my mid-30s but it became gradually worse and in the last six months it has flipped my life 180. They will have to remove one of my native kidneys as they are huge and to make way for a potential transplant.

“I’ve always been aware of having it and when my brother left to study in Glasgow I had to become my dad’s full-time carer. I had to help him with his dialysis and cook, clean and look after him up until he got his transplant.

“Thankfully my father is a lot better now and his new kidney is still performing 20 years on. Now I am going through a steep decline that has seen me become bed ridden when I lived an extremely active lifestyle before.

“Before my health turned I would be going to the gym four or five times a week but now I can barely walk without feeling dizzy and breathless - I just feel crap all the time. Fatigue has really set in and there is pressure being placed on my other organs due to the size of my kidneys.

“I’m unable to really sleep at night and suffer from pain underneath my ribs as well as digestive problems.”

After the death of his brother eight years ago, he moved to Thailand to start a new life, where he met his now partner Lita.

Tom could only call on the support of his partner for six months in Edinburgh before her visa ran out and so he is now living with family while he prepares to undergo an agonising wait and dialysis treatment.

Lita is currently in the process of trying to return to Edinburgh so that she can be by Tom’s side.

“Sadly my brother passed away ten years ago from a rare heart condition, he was just 34,” he continued. “That was a real motivator for me to move to Thailand as I thought life was too short.

“My condition is not necessarily a death sentence but it completely reduces your standard of living. Without a transplant I would have to go to hospital three times a week for dialysis for the rest of my life.

“But the alternative and much preferred route is a kidney transplant. The current wait for a deceased donor is around three years and has a higher risk of complications compared to a living donor.

“The preferred option is by far a living donor, which if well matched, can have a higher success rate, and will last for longer statistically. It can be planned ahead of time. Ideally this would be from a family member but this is not an option for me.

“My cousin Neil underwent all the tests but sadly he was not a match. A transplant would give me the opportunity to get my life back, a second chance at life.

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“I want to be active again and plan a family in the future. At the moment I am just so physically and mentally drained as well as scared of what the future may hold.”

Tom says that he hopes to become an advocate for PKD after he is back on his feet and he has argued that the UK should adopt a microsite system like that used in America.

Those requiring a kidney transplant can upload all of their details to a portal and those willing to donate a kidney can read their story and find out if they are a match.