Joy for kidney failure patient Bill Aitken awaiting life-changing second transplant as he prepares to welcome first grandchild

A kidney patient who faces an uncertain future while he waits for a second transplant has spoken of his joy after finding out he’s going to be a granddad.

Thursday, 21st October 2021, 4:55 am
Bill Aitken attends new state-of-the-art renal unit at the Western General

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Bill Aitken, from Haddington, said his life was turned upside down when he was diagnosed with renal failure nearly three decades ago.

Mr Aitken first noticed that something was wrong when he was 32 and struggled to run during football games. He started to feel unwell more often, but had put it down to deteriorating fitness.

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The young dad was shocked when tests revealed he had kidney failure. After a few years of dialysis, a transplant in 1998 gave him a new lease of life – until he had to go back on dialysis again. He has now been waiting for a match for a second transplant for four years.

Mr Aitken, now 61, attends the brand new £6.2 million Renal Dialysis Unit at the city’s Western General hospital for dialysis twelve hours a week over three days.

He described treatment as robbing him of time and leaving him feeling like he has jet lag. But after finding out he is going to be a granddad for the first time, Mr Aitken is full of hope for the future.

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Mr Aitken said: “It was devastating when I found out I had kidney failure. I was playing amateur football and had a young family. I thought I had good health. When the day came that I couldn’t put off treatment any longer a huge freedom was taken away. It robs you of so many hours and days but I try to put in the background then get on with my life when I come out. It keeps me alive.

"After the first transplant, it was like night and day. It was almost like normal life again. But it doesn’t last forever, you still need treatment in time. Now I’m waiting on a second transplant and always keep the faith that some day my time will come.

"I hope I can make it to London to visit my grandchild who is due early December. Me and my wife plan to go on a weekend in between my treatments. I’m excited to meet the wee one.”

Mr Aitken has welcomed the new facility at the Western General which is designed to meet rising demand for dialysis treatment.

The new building has increased the number of dialysis stations from 9 to 12 meaning up to 72 patients can now be treated in the unit.

Mr Aitken said: “This feels light years away from the previous unit, a 35-year-old portacabin. Now we have our own TV so I can watch the footie. It was the right time to give patients a better environment for treatment. I feel content to pass the time here until a transplant can bring me back that different, more normal life.”

The Renal Dialysis Unit is one of several new projects at the Western General Hospital and was funded by NHS Lothian Capital Investment.

Dr Caroline Whitworth, consultant nephrologist said: “We’re already seeing the positive impact this new facility is having on patients and staff. The clinical areas are as light and airy as possible, but also more peaceful. The unit will be a great benefit for patients for years to come.”

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