More than 30 years later, after dozens of doctors appointments, hours spent on dialysis machines and a kidney transplant from her husband Colin, Mrs Barclay will take part in the Big Red Walk next Sunday, September 1.
It was when she was 17 that she found out she had lost 50 per cent use of one of her kidneys, causing it to shrink and the other one to enlarge to make up for the loss of function.
The disease was caused by a common condition known as kidney reflux ” both valves in the ureters were not working properly, causing constant urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Although an UTI can easily be treated, it went undiagnosed when Mrs Barclay was a child, leading to kidney failure.
‘I was quite tired and prone to infections. I knew that I was going to have trouble with my kidneys in later life, but I decided to carry on living as normal,’ she said.
Despite damage to her kidneys, they were able to function in some form and Mrs Barclay lived a normal life until six-and-a-half years ago.
‘From 2005 until March last year I was on peritoneal dialysis, where I had to connect up to a dialysis machine for ten-and-a-half hours each night,’ she said.
The treatment required Mrs Barclay to have a catheter inserted to drain waste product from her blood each night.
She kept working and living an otherwise normal life, but the need for a kidney transplant soon became inevitable.
Mrs Barclay’s name was already on the kidney transplant waiting list, but after six years no match was found due to rare antibodies in her blood.
‘My husband was tested and we found out we were a tissue match but not a blood match. For me to receive his kidney I had to undergo a rare procedure called aphaeresis, which separated and removed two of my antibodies from my blood to enable my body to accept my husband’s kidney,’ she said.
‘I always said I didn’t want him to donate, but my specialist said the longer I stayed on dialysis, the more harm it did to other organs.’
In March last year, Mrs Barclay received a kidney from her husband in a successful transplant and is now living a perfectly normal life.
‘The first thing I did was go out for dinner with my husband at night because I didn’t have to be hooked up to a machine. We often go fishing at night under the stars, which I could never do before,’ she said.
To donate to her Kidney Health Australia Big Red Walk, visit bigredkidneywalk2013. gofundraise.com.au/ page/LindaB