Published by BBC NEWS - 8th March 2022

Luke Horne with his mum, Elaine Horne

Image source, Michael Horne

Luke Horne’s mum is happy he “has a lovely life now” since she gave him her kidney following months of gruelling dialysis.

The 23-year-old almost died from kidney failure just over a year ago.

He thinks that having three or four energy drinks a day since he was a teenager may have contributed to his condition. Now he has changed his diet and only drinks water.

After his diagnosis and a period in intensive care, he began dialysis. It lasted for five hours, three times a week, and left him physically drained and with painful headaches.

So when his mum, Elaine, found out she was a match for a kidney transplant she said it was “a great relief”.

Luke told BBC Scotland: “I thank her in my own way. We don’t talk about it, we are both like that.

“But she definitely knows I’m very thankful for it.

“It’s really good of her and I can never thank her enough. She knows that.”

Luke Horne

Image source, Elaine Horne

Luke underwent nine months of dialysis before the operation went ahead.

Elaine, 48, who lives in East Linton, said: “It’s a hard experience and he needed to get on with his life.

“We came so close to losing him. We don’t dwell on it. I don’t think about him having my kidney inside him and he doesn’t need to say thank you.

“He has a girlfriend and has a lovely life now. He was friends with her for years but they got together during this experience.

“I think it made them realise how life can be short.”

In December 2020 Luke had started feeling unwell and lost his sense of taste and smell. He began self-isolating at his home in North Berwick because he thought he had Covid.

Energy drinks

Image source, Getty Images

But when his dad, Michael, visited to check up on him through his window, he saw that his son had turned grey and his face and feet were swollen and puffy.

He told his son to go to his GP, and blood samples showed Luke had end-stage kidney failure.

When he reached hospital they told him he just had minutes left to live.

Luke said he had been drinking three to four energy drinks a day since he was 14 or 15.

He said: “The doctor said it was more than likely that all the energy drinks caused me to have high blood pressure and that caused my kidney failure.

“I liked the taste of them so I didn’t think of the consequences. I was just a young, daft laddie.

“They are not good for you, I see that now. Now I only drink water.”

Luke has also changed his diet and does not eat processed foods. He will be on immunosuppressant drugs for the rest of his life.

Luke Horne

Image source, Michael Horne

Dr Charlie Tomson, kidney specialist and trustee at Kidney Research UK, said that over-consumption of energy drinks, which contain a large amount of caffeine, can cause a rise in blood pressure.

“High blood pressure can cause kidney damage directly, and can also accelerate the progression of pre-existing kidney problems,” he said.

“It is unlikely that energy drinks alone can be a direct cause of kidney failure, but of course moderation is key.”

Elaine, who had the kidney transplant operation on 8 September last year, said she found it hard watching her son go through dialysis.

“It was physically draining for him and he would get extremely sore heads after it,” she said.

“He couldn’t go out with his friends because he would be at dialysis, his whole life had to change.

“Dialysis can be a real ordeal for kidney patients, it’s tough going.”

Michael, Kieran, Luke and Elaine

Image source, Michael Horne

She said she did not think twice about donating her kidney to her son.

Elaine, who is now a Kidney Research UK community ambassador, added: “The consultant makes sure you don’t feel pressured to give your kidney. They keep asking you if you want to slow the proceedings down if you don’t feel ready.

“I was nervous but because he is my son I was extremely focussed on the end goal.

“It was the only way we could help. It was a trauma how close he came to dying, it came out of the blue.

“We felt we had no control of the situation so as soon as we could get tested for a transplant we did.”

Elaine said if she had not been a match she would have joined the shared donation scheme, where she would have donated her kidney to a family who had a matching kidney for her son.

She said: “I’m just his mum, you do anything to help your kids, I would have felt worse if I had been told I couldn’t help him.”

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