Ros Aird’s story of her experience administering dialysis after her husband, Steve Gilbey, was diagnosed with kidney disease.

I was very aware of kidney disease as it was this that had affected my brother who had died a couple of years previously after five years on dialysis. So I had an idea of what we were in for when my husband, Steve Gilbey, was told that he needed dialysis. Nonetheless it was a blow as I knew that this would now dominate our lives.

Kidney disease is increasingly common and for most it is a life sentence, with many sufferers requiring dialysis several times a week for three or four hours at a time unless a transplant becomes available. So it was now for Steve and we started off on a form of dialysis called peritoneal dialysis that we could do at home.

Unfortunately, a bad infection soon put paid to that and this meant that we needed to attend the hospital dialysis unit three evenings a week for four hours of dialysis a time. This was exhausting and life seemed to revolve entirely around the next appointment.

We had talked to other patients who were doing dialysis at home on specialist machines installed in their homes and we asked to be considered for this. To our delight we were able to start training after nearly six months of hospital dialysis and this literally transformed our lives. We were fortunate that we had a spare bedroom which could be pressed into service and, after some adaptions to electricity and water supplies,  the machinery was installed, all provided through our wonderful NHS.

After a few weeks’ training, and despite a couple of setbacks, we started on our own. It was quite complicated and rather scary as the machine works by filtering the impurities from the blood, so every dialysis required me to insert special needles into Steve’s vein to access his blood. It felt like his life was in my hands.

However, the friendly and unstinting support from the home therapies unit, backed up by a 24-hour helpline to the equipment supplier, soon built our confidence and whatever stupid mistakes we made were dealt with in good humour and efficiency.

Fortunately none of them were really serious – a tribute to our thorough training. Our confidence grew and grew until dialysis became a general routine and the three-hour sessions gave us the opportunity to spend good time together in a comfortable environment , chatting, planning, watching films etc.

'When Steve died last year it was devastating but I knew he would want me to recognise how much we appreciated the way in which we had been treated'

The dialysis machine we chose was portable enough to let us take it on holiday and we took full advantage, spending time in Yorkshire, France and Switzerland in the first year alone. Dialysis became a part of life which we could fit in round our ‘proper’ life – it was liberating and it brought us closer as a couple, becoming a joint enterprise and a challenge to master.

When Steve died last year it was devastating but I knew he would want me to recognise how much we appreciated the way in which we had been treated – as rational and intelligent people whose treatment choices were sought and respected.

I resolved that I would sell some shares that his mother had left him and offer the proceeds to the renal unit to use as they saw fit for the benefit of patients. Steve was a much-loved only child, so I knew that she would have approved.

For my part I will always be grateful to all the lovely people in the renal unit and I hope that this refurbishment will help that care to continue.

Lister renal ward's communal areas get a makeover thanks to charity donation >