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Clare Best changed her unhealthy lifestyle after a kidney and pancreas transplant
8:30am Monday 28th May 2012 in Echo Woman
AT the age of just 24, Clare Best was told she would be dead in seven days unless she underwent emergency dialysis.
But rather than listening to the warning, she checked out of hospital and set herself on a path of self destruction.
Looking back, she says she was in so much pain from her kidneys failing that she no longer cared if she lived or died.
Diagnosed with diabetes from the age of eight, she had gone on to eat the wrong foods, smoke and drink too much. This led to her kidneys failing and her body becoming bloated with excess water.
Clare, now 30, says: “I was diagnosed from such a young age and never really shown how to deal with my diabetes.
“It was not until I was 24 that I felt the implications of what I had done and that by that point I was feeling too ill to care.”
Despite being told she would not survive more than a week without dialysis Clare checked herself out of Southend Hospital and went back to her home in Southchurch.
She adds: “I was reckless and on self destruct and determined to go home. I didn’t tell my family what the doctors had said and over 14 days I felt progressively more ill.
“I carried on going out and getting drunk and that, coupled with the kidney failure, meant I felt really ill. It got to the point where I could hardly breath and the thought of walking even 100 yards was impossible to me.”
After two weeks Clare eventually admitted herself to Southend Hospital.
She says: “I was terrified of needles but I knew I had to have dialysis so I agreed to it. I lost 14 kilos of water during the dialysis and I could not believe how much better I felt afterwards.”
It was after the dialysis that Clare had subsequent health problems due to her diabetes.
“My eyesight in my left eye started to go and eventually I lost the sight completely. Now I am partially sighted in my right eye.
“I was put on the transplant list and had to change my life around. I gave up smoking and had a different attitude to my health.”
Previously Clare had taken risks with her health.
Clare says: “Even when I was diagnosed with diabetes at eight I didn’t really understand what it meant. I remember thinking in my head that the doctor was telling me that chocolate would kill me and so when I got home from the doctors I immediately ate some chocolate to test it. When nothing happened I carried on.
“Although my mum always gave me my insulin I didn’t stuck to a healthy diet and would eat chocolate and ice cream with my friends. When I was older I also started smoking and going out partying.”
After her health scare Clare completely re-evaluated her lifestyle.
She says: “Looking back I can’t believe how I lived my life. I do wish someone had sat me down when I was young and explained to me what could happen to me if I didn’t live a healthy life.
“I am now training as a counsellor and I hope to specialise in working with young people who have diabetes and show them how they need to live in order to be healthy.”
Clare was on dialysis for a year before she was able to have a kidney and pancreas transplant which meant she no longer had diabetes.
She says: “It was a big operation and it took a while to recover but I better afterwards and it was incredible to not have diabetes anymore.
“I no longer smoked and barely drank and it made me appreciate life - I was no longer the same angry person.”
Sadly, Clare’s new kidney started rejecting was in 2009 by 2010 it had stopped functioning and she needed to go back onto dialysis.
Clare says: “I am now on dialysis for three hours, three times a week. I have limited sight but I am determined to remain independent and I live on my own.
“Although I have been through a lot I love life and I really value my life now compared to before.”
Clare is set to raise money for Addenbrooke's Kidney Patients Association and to raise awareness for National Transplant Week from July 9 to 16. She will fly a plane with an instructor at Southend Airport on Sunday 15 July.
She says: “I have always loved flying on planes and even more so now because of my loss of my sight because I want to live my life and see as much of it as I can. I thought this would be a good way to raise money and awareness.”