Remarkable patients and carers

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Remarkable patients and carers

People who have developed kidney failure in the UK have faced many and varied challenges over the last 60 years or so.

Up until the mid-1960s end stage kidney failure was life-ending.  Then both dialysis and transplant began to emerge as practical therapies to replace renal function, but at first were available only to very few of those who might benefit from them. A period of gradual increase in availability of treatment followed, punctuated by a variety of set backs which are documented elsewhere.

The prospects for many of those early kidney  patients were not good, and few had long lives. But some lived for many years supported by dialysis and transplant, and have remarkable experiences to recount; especially experiences of the pioneering early years of renal care in the UK.

Among patient experiences we record here are the lives and achievements of some of those long survivors who developed renal failure in the 1960s and 1970s.

We welcome any additions to this record of remarkable patients and carers.

Peter Davis developed renal failure in the early 1970s, and was among the first patients to start regular haemodialysis in Leicester when the renal unit opened there in 1974. After four years on  dialysis  he received a kidney transplant in 1978 which was still functioning well forty years later when he and his wife gave an interview in 2018 describing their many years experience as kidney patient and carer. (link)

Andrew Demaine  developed kidney failure in 1969 when he was 12 years old. His second kidney transplant performed in 1974 was still  working  well in 2023. He went on to a career as a research scientist studying the genetics of human disease. Read more


Stephen Draper began dialysis in 1979 aged 41. His wife Andrea has written a positive and revealing, detailed and illustrated account of their joint life through dialysis, home dialysis, travelling dialysis with a Redy machine, unsuccessful transplants in 1981 and 1984, failing heart and death in 1989. But this is a tale about both carer and patient.  Stephen Draper – To Have & to Hold

Robin Eady developed renal failure when he was a medical student in London, started regular haemodialysis in 1963, and was later transplanted.  He became an academic dermatologist, a world authority on epidemolysis bullosa.  At the time of his death in 2017 he was the world’s longest surviving individual on renal replacement therapy, which he received for 53 years (more).

Ann Eady – Robin met his wife Ann  when she was a dialysis nurse in London. Ann has written an account from her perspective both as carer and professional, which is linked under Remarkable Professionals.

Thom Green is a professional musician – drummer with the indie rock band,Alt-j. He describes the impact on his life and work of developing kidney failure.

Olga Heppel was also in the ‘Lucky 13’ photograph from the Royal Free Hospital in 1965. She was one of the earliest patients to undertake home dialysis, leading to her appearance in a Movietone newsreel. She had a resourceful husband and it seems also a good sense of humour … More about Olga Heppell

      Elizabeth Ward – founder of the British Kidney Patients Association. More about Elizabeth Ward

Last Updated on February 8, 2024 by John Feehally