Lewes man’s double transplant is suspended due to coronavirus

A 41-year-old Lewes man who is awaiting a life-saving kidney-pancreas transplant has been told his operation has been ‘suspended’ due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Thursday, 14th January 2021, 12:25 pm
Updated Thursday, 14th January 2021, 12:31 pm

Ed Smith, who has type 1 diabetes, went on the transplant list last March after his kidneys went into failure.

This involves waiting for a deceased donor who would need to be the perfect match for him.

But due to the coronavirus outbreak, his operation is now on hold because hospital beds are ‘filled with covid patients’.

Ed Smith. Picture contributed
Ed Smith. Picture contributed

Ed, a finance analyst who lives in Malling, said: “I got a call from Guy’s Hospital in London – which is where I have to have the operation – saying all operations had been suspended due to the hospital being filled with covid patients.

“It wasn’t unexpected to be honest because of how bad things are getting, but it is frustrating because at the moment I have to go out and have dialysis three times a week which takes up an awful lot of time and is painful and not a lot of fun!

“And I was a bit upset about it because it just means you are having to wait even longer than what can be a long time anyway.”

Ed has been shielding since the pandemic began after receiving a letter from the Government telling him to stay at home.

Fortunately, he has been able to work from home – but in that time he has only left his home to go and have dialysis at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.

“It is quite frustrating not being able to go out at all and knowing now that time might be extended for longer,” said Ed.

“I am lucky that I live with my fiancé, Natalie, and I am not on my own. My friends have also been dropping off prescriptions at my door and when they come we have a conversation at the door from a distance.

“But you see people moaning about not being able to go to the pub – at least they get to go out!

“I think people are a little bit extreme about minor infringements on their liberties.”

The double transplant Ed needs usually takes between six to eight hours, he said, and he has to go into intensive care immediately afterwards.

The average wait time for a transplant is 18 months, added Ed, but he could receive a call any time if a perfect match comes in.

When asked how Ed has coped with shielding during the pandemic, he replied: “It is what it is isn’t it – I have to accept it.

“The risk of me catching this disease is quite severe which obviously motivates me to stay at home.

“After the operation I have to go immediately on immunosuppressants which help prevent my immune system from rejecting the donor organs. After the operation I am ten times more likely to die from covid.”

He said the vaccine roll-out was running smoothly in Lewes – but fears people might become complacent now knowing there is a vaccine.

“I know the Government thinks they are going to have everyone vaccinated by a certain time but I will believe it when I see it,” added Ed.

“I am in the third priority group to get the jab – along with the over 70’s – so fingers crossed it all goes to plan.”

Ed said people who are not obeying the rules or believe the pandemic is a hoax ‘need to get over their bizarre theories and accept that there are a bunch of people who are really sick and the knock on effects from it’.

“What will it take to make people realise,” added Ed.

“People seem to think vulnerable people are just the elderly but that’s not the case.”

Ed praised the ‘amazing’ care from nurses in the dialysis unit at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, who, he said, are working around the clock.

“They are all pretty depressed,” he said, adding: “I just think people need to remember these people are working ridiculous hours and are doing such a good job. They are absolutely amazing.”