Hartlepool man born with one kidney is guinea pig for new drug

Phillip Braithwaite  is taking part in a new drug trial.
Phillip Braithwaite is taking part in a new drug trial.

A 55-year battle with chronic kidney disease has been revealed by a Hartlepool man - but a revolutionary new drug is proving a salvation.

Phillip Braithwaite’s life has been affected ever since he was born in 1955 with only one poorly working kidney, by everything from dialysis to injections.

Anaemia has always been a big problem for me and other renal patients. Although anaemia is a side effect of kidney failure, it makes you feel cold and tired. Anything that can be done to alleviate those symptoms has to be a good thing

Phillip Braithwaite

It scuppered his hopes of ever having a job and hampered his education. And even after a kidney transplant in 1986, that has stopped working properly.

Now Phillip is having four-hour dialysis sessions, three times a week at The James Cook University Memorial Hospital in Middlesbrough.

He believes he is the longest surviving patient to still be undergoing treatment in the region.

But a trial of a revolutionary new drug called Mircera, which is used to treat anaemia in people with chronic kidney disease, is making a massive difference and Phillip has less of a reliance on dialysis.

Mircera is administered by injection and contains an artificial form of the protein that is normally produced by the kidneys to help the body produce red blood cells.

Phillip, from the Oxford Road area of town, said: “Anaemia has always been a big problem for me and other renal patients.

“Anything that can be done to alleviate those symptoms has to be a good thing.

“In the past, treatment for anaemia has been either by taking iron supplements or through a blood transfusion. There are worries around blood transfusions so I think an injection is much better for the patient.

“I used to go for dialysis four times a week for 10 hours each time. Now it’s just three times a week for four hours each. It shows the advances in medicine that are being made and it’s important to be part of that.”

“I’d definitely encourage other people to be open to taking part in research in their local area as it can help others in the long run.”

Professor Andrew Owens, research and development director at the South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which runs the hospital, said: “High quality research is important because it leads to better and more varied health care options, allowing us to provide the best possible treatment to patients and cost savings to the NHS. This is only possible because of our fantastic patients and staff, who are fully engaged with our research programme.”

Single man Phillip was born with just one poorly working kidney. At 13 years old, he became the first child in the area to receive dialysis.

Now, as his transplanted kidney is struggling after 22 years of success, Phillip stays more at home and enjoys reading, television and the Internet.

But he praised the James Cook hospital and Mircera for helping reduce his levels of dialysis.