A 32-year-old midwife from Aberdare is racing in this year’s Cardiff 10K in aid of the Kidney Wales Foundation, the leading Welsh charity who has supported her husband Ben as he has battled with kidney health-related issues for the last nine years.
Kara and her then fiancée Ben discovered that he was suffering with an acute kidney condition in 2007, when he was referred to the University Hospital of Wales after weeks of passing blood in his urine. Following tests, it was confirmed that Ben had a condition called IgA Nephropathy; an illness that settles in the kidney and causes scarring and inflammation within the organs.
Ben went on to fight the condition for three years, and in 2010 he was well on his way to recovery and was discharged from his hospital treatment plan. However last year Kara and Ben were busy planning their wedding and raising their two sons, Jack, 6, and Max, 2 when Ben started to feel overly drained and exhausted.
Initially putting Ben’s symptoms down to the typical stresses and strains of day-to-day life, the couple pushed on with their lives. In August 2015, the couple married and in the September set off on their honeymoon, but Ben’s symptoms were becoming heightened and the couple realised that the reasons behind Ben’s fatigue might not be as clear cut as they had hoped. The couple returned home and Ben booked in to have blood tests.
In early October 2015, Ben endured a series of tests which in just three days confirmed that the symptoms of his previous illness, IgA Nephropathy, had worsened and the disease was attacking his kidneys, causing them to fail. By this stage Ben’s kidneys were 60% damaged and a further 25% partially damaged meaning he would have to receive dialysis treatment immediately.
Upon learning of this new development, Kara, Kara’s mother, Ben’s mother, father and sister, Leanne were all tested to see if they were a match and could become his organ donor and give him the gift of a lifetime. Ben began dialysis treatment immediately at the University Hospital of Wales, traveling from his home in Aberdare three times a week for treatment sessions lasting four hours at a time. After two months of haemodialysis treatment, the exhausting process was taking its toll on Ben’s life and he began dialysis at home four times a day. In February 2015, Ben then switched to receiving peritoneal dialysis treatment, (which involves pumping dialysis fluid into the space inside the abdomen) which was done overnight to ensure he could spend as much family time as possible with Kara, Jack and Max.
Following months of arduous treatment, Ben and Kara finally received the good news they were hoping for; Leanne, Ben’s sister was a perfect match and she could begin the journey to become Ben’s donor. The operation took place on May 20th and was a success. Both Ben and Leanne were discharged within five days and are recovering well from the operation. The doctors are happy with the progress Ben has made so far and are confident he will make a full recovery.
Kara, along with her friends and some of Leanne’s friends are showing their support for Kidney Wales, who have provided advice and support to both Ben and Leanne during their journey, by taking part in this year’s Cardiff 10K, raising vital monies for the Welsh charity that is now so close to their hearts.
Kara said: “I was thrilled to learn that Leanne was able to become Ben’s donor, and that he could finally come off dialysis. Watching Ben struggle so much and become more and more drained was heart-breaking, but knowing that there is now a solution has given our family so much hope and faith.
“I am really looking forward to running my first ever 10K and raising money for the Kidney Wales Foundation who are now a big part of both our lives. I have raised £400 already, and I’m hoping to raise over £500 before the race day.”
Roy Thomas, Chief Executive of Kidney Wales said: “Dealing with the worries and hardships brought on by the effects of kidney disease can be hugely testing for families, and at Kidney Wales we aim to do everything we can with our fundraising proceeds to support families in their times of need.
“The Cardiff 10K is a huge fundraiser in our events calendar and every penny raised counts. I wish Kara the best of luck in her first ever 10K and want to thank the group for the monies they raise.”
Registration for the 2016 Cardiff 10K and 2K events is now open and people of all ages and abilities are encouraged to get involved with the iconic city centre road race.
To find out more about the event, to sign up or to help raise money and awareness for Kidney Wales, please visit the Cardiff 10K website: www.cardiff10K.cymru or call (029) 2034 3951.