From bodybuilder to practically bedridden: A dad-of-three’s agonising wait for a new kidney – Wales Online

Every other day, 32-year-old Michael Kitto has five litres of fluid drained from his body and suffers migraines so bad, he feels like his eyes are on fire.

The heating in the family home is on permanently to keep him warm, and his three-year-old wants to be a doctor when he grows up so he can cure his dad.

Mr Kitto has end-stage kidney failure, which means his body is slowly giving up. There is no cure, only the hope that he can find a kidney donor before it is too late.

He says he faces an agonising wait of at least two years if he relies on the NHS. So now, he and his partner Chloe Price are trying to raise £65,000 to get private treatment.

The children know their dad is ill. Pictured, left to right: Michael Kitto holding daughter Aaliyah Kitto, Chloe Price, Bodhi Kitto and Noah Kitto

Miss Price said: “He is just on a waiting list.

“The process of getting treatment on the NHS is around 18 months to two years, and that’s just testing for a suitable donor.

“By the time the tests are done, and he is operated on, it might be too late.”

Mr Kitto, a former professional body builder, has already had one kidney transplant in August 2016. But two years to the date after his transplant, his body started rejecting the organ, which had been donated by his mother.

He has focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), which is an autoimmune disease which attacks the kidneys. Doctors don’t know why it happened to Mr Kitto, but it is the leading cause of kidney failure in adults.

A life dependant on a machine

The couple met in Cardiff where Mr Kitto used to be a doorman and Miss Price used to work in a bar. They have three children between them, eight-month old Aaliyah, one-year-old Bodhi and Noah, who is three.

Ever since August 2018, Miss Price, 27, has watched her partner deteriorate at an alarming rate. Mr Kitto is now on full-time dialysis. His life is dependant on a machine to keep his body functioning.

In just four months he has reached end stage kidney failure. He has deteriorated quicker than last time due to the kidney not being his own.

Michael Kitto and partner Chloe Price are trying to raise £65k for a kidney transplant

Michael is plagued by migraines, poor circulation and build-up of excessive fluid

Miss Price estimates they have made more than 20 trips from their home in Quakers Yard, Treharris to the Heath hospital in Cardiff for emergency treatment this year. She has lost count of the number of times she had to call either her or Mr Kitto’s mother to come over and look after the babies, at any time of the day or night, so she can get her partner into the car and take him to hospital.

She said: “Michael is at risk of being in hospital full time because of all the fluid build up.

“He gets extremely swollen – if you press in his leg the indentation stays there for minutes.

“His stomach swells out like he is heavily pregnant, which really gets him down because he is used to having a flat stomach.”

Miss Price has had to act as the main breadwinner as well as full-time carer.

“I look after the babies because Michael can’t,” she explained.

“As soon as I put the babies to bed, I head out of the door to a cleaning job.

“It’s the only way of bringing in money while being a mum as well as a full time carer.”

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Mr Kitto travels to a clinic in Merthyr Tydfil every other day for his dialysis treatment, which leaves him bed-ridden for the rest of the day.

For the time in between, his quality of life is zero, Miss Price says. Due to the side-effects from renal failure side, he spends the majority of his time in bed lifeless, unable to eat, being sick, with excessive fluid retention, extreme migraines and poor circulation.

His legs get so restless, he feels as if something is crawling up them, and he suffers migraines which make him feel like the backs of his eyes are on fire.

Before his illness took hold, Mr Kitto was proud of his body, going to painstaking lengths to hone his muscles for body building competitions. But his muscles are wasting and he has lost an extraordinary amount of weight, said Miss Price.

“It has totally stopped him doing the one thing that he absolutely loved doing,” she explained.

“It has stopped him from being a dad to the babies – they don’t get to see much of their dad because he is so ill.”

Michael Kitto used to be a professional body builder

Confined to bed, Michael Kitto has lost a lot of his muscle mass

She says Noah knows exactly what is going on with his dad and said: “He tells his dad he is going to be a doctor so he can find a cure for him.”

One-year-old Bodhi always asks his dad if he is feeling better.

“They know they can’t jump on him and play fight with him like they used to,” Miss Price said.

“I’m trying my hardest to be mum and dad for them at the moment.”

The couple enjoyed their first evening out together in 2018 to celebrate their anniversary, which was “absolute bliss”. It was a chance for them to forget about things for a few hours, and enjoy doing what normal couples do.

But it’s when the children are in bed and when Mr Kitto is sleeping that life feels hard: “That’s when I breakdown,” Miss Price said.

She says she has a lot of hope and is determined to do whatever it takes for Mr Kitto to get back the life that every 32-year-old should have.

A race against time

Miss Price admits she is feeling daunted by the amount of money they need to raise.

“We are in a panic at the moment because it is a lot of money, but you can’t even see a consultant without a £10k deposit.

“But with this disease time isn’t on your side. We need to act now to save him,” she said.

‘With this disease time isn’t on your side’

According to Miss Price, Mr Kitto is not on a list for a transplant yet. Once a possible donor is found, they need to be tested which can take anything up to 18 months.

“There are a number of family members who have a high chance of being a match, but they are all waiting to be tested.”

She fears if her partner continues to deteriorate at his current rate, he will be too ill for a transplant.

“We have decided on the private route to get it done sooner because it doesn’t look like he will live.”

“People have made some nasty comments that we just want to go private as some sort of luxury, but for us, it is a race against time. Michael might not be here in two years,” she said.

She says tests on prospective donors can be completed in around a week, with the operation completed soon after.

A spokesperson for Cardiff and Vale UHB said, “The process of assessing live donors can sometimes be lengthy due to the need to protect the health of the donor, and the exact length of the process depends on what investigations are required.

“The guidelines from the British Transplant Society advise not starting assessments of potential donors until the recipient’s suitability to be transplanted has been confirmed.

“The issues of confidentially can compound the assessment process, as we are not able to discuss issues relating to the recipient with their potential donor without express consent.”

Miss Price is making green ribbons, which she is selling to raise awareness of Kidney Disease. The green bows are worn by those who have kidney disease, are on dialysis, have received a kidney transplant, or who are living kidney donors wear the green ribbon.

You can donate to Michael’s urgent kidney transplant appeal here.

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