Anne Davies’ interview with Larine Statham-Blair

Anne Davies has kidney disease and spends 12 hours per week receiving haemodialysis. The busy horticulturalist and keen horsewoman is on the transplant wait list.

Larine (L): Hi Anne, lovely to meet you. Tell me about yourself and your journey.

Anne (A): My name is Anne Davies, and I’m 59-years-old originally from Wales. I’ve lived in Australia since I was 18 and I’ve been a horticulturist for the last 40 years. I became aware of my kidney failure about 20-years-ago. My kidneys have hung in really well, until about two years ago when their function fell to the point of me requiring dialysis.

L: How has that impacted you Anne?

A: It was slightly traumatic for me, for sure. I wanted to do peritoneal dialysis, known as PD, and that’s an insert into peritoneal cavity. It’s quite an invasive operation that was really painful, but what it meant was I could do my dialysis at home. Unfortunately, the first time I did it, I had pneumonia and I couldn’t breathe. I ended up at hospital that night and the fluid from the PD had reached my lungs. After that, PD was ruled out, and they put a port in my chest for my treatment instead.

L: How are you finding treatment with the port?

A: It’s been really good for me, it means I avoid having so many needles. There are still challenges, it’s not an easy road, but it’s working for me at the moment.

L: How often do you come in for treatment Anne?

A: I come in on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I started with a four-hour treatment every night, which was exhausting on top of work. But now, because I’ve been going well, I have three-hour treatments on those three nights. I’m here so much I call it my second job!

L: Anne you’re the fourth person we’ve spoken to now – all at different stages of the organ transplant journey. And one common theme we hear from the others, is the importance of family support. Do you have many conversations about your illness with your family?

A: I always talk about it with my siblings, they’ve been remarkable. I never had the conversation, or asked, is anybody going to donate a kidney? But my sister, she’s amazing. She called me and said ‘right, I’m your big sister, I’ll be giving you a kidney’. Unfortunately, she underwent kidney testing and it wasn’t feasible. I wasn’t devastated, actually relieved, as I’d hate to impact the health of my sister.

L: Do you know how long people normally wait for kidneys? Is there an average time?

A: Not really, it’s really to do with the compatibility. It’s not like I’m number 10, and I’ve just moved up to number nine, it’s purely compatibility.

L: How has the journey been for you so far? You mentioned that there’s a big physical toll. But how have you felt on an emotional level?

A: I’m really good. Super good. I realise that I’m lucky. I live in Australia. I have a fabulous team of nurses and doctors. I do this to live, my life does not revolve around dialysis at all, dialysis gives me the gift of living. It allows me to be a mum, ride horses, continue working. It allows me to continue to enjoy life. Receiving a transplant is something that’s like the holy grail, it would give me a new lease on life. I imagine if I get the call now, it would be quite frantic. Leaving your family at the drop of a hat, juggling mortgage repayments and organising work. I’d be away from home for two months, I’d be forever grateful but I also have a routine now and often think about ‘what ifs’.

L: With other organ donor recipients we’ve spoken to, they’ve mentioned going through psychological testing to help with post-transplant mental health. Have you given any thought to how you might feel about the fact that someone else has passed away and you’re receiving their organs?

A: I think it’s an incredible thing, to think of others and donating life. Obviously, it brings massive tragedy and heartbreak to families, and I feel for their grief. But I would mostly feel gratitude, I’d be forever grateful for their gift.

Read the full Gift of Life photo essay story The gift of life

Special thanks to local organ donation specialist nurse, Karen Jenner.