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Nigel Friday gets a hug from his daughter Nychelle Friday

RADHICA DE SILVA

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Nigel Friday always ate well, drank lots of water and exercised but during the COVID-19 pandemic last year, he got the shocking news that his kidneys were no longer functioning.

Friday, 44, of Tarodale Gardens, Ste Madeleine, said the doctors told him he had end stage renal failure, the final permanent stage of chronic kidney disease.

It was something he never expected.

Friday said it was also a double blow to his family as his wife Abigail Friday, 32, had died of poisoning four years earlier, leaving him to care for their two children -Nychelle and Nigel Junior.

Recalling the day he got the news, Friday said, “I felt as if a meteoroid had come and slammed into my head. I thought I would die immediately. I had to stop working one time. They warded me and then told me that I needed immediate dialysis.”

The most frightening part of the early diagnosis was hearing about the process of dialysis, he recalled.

“I was told that I would be hospitalised for three months because this was Stage Five kidney disease. I would have to get a fistula inserted and also on the neckline. I had already lost my wife and I could not leave my two children alone so I decided not to stay in the hospital but to organize to do it privately,” Friday said.

His medical bills went up. He did blood tests, scans and X-rays on his kidneys.

“Sometimes I would be spending more than $20,000 per month,” he said.

Friday said as a youth, he knew he had high blood pressure but he did not think that would complicate his kidneys.

“It never bothered me. I was healthy and eating well. I would exercise, I was not overweight. I didn’t get headaches so why should I worry? That was my mantra, why worry. It was not bothering me,” he said.

Friday said he drank a lot of water and never ate junk food regularly. He was careful to drink fruit juices that were natural and unsweetened.

Friday recalled how he always believed these illnesses happened to people who did not care about their health.

“I thought kidney failure was a disease that drunkards will get, people who drink real rum will get kidney disease. I never believed I would end up like this,” he said.

He explained that within nine months, all of his savings began to dwindle.

Unable to work and with income, Friday realized quickly that he was in trouble.

“One morning in January I woke up and realised that I had no money. Everything was finished. I called my brother in the United States and he and my other brother Kevin got together and started to come up with a way to help me,” Friday said.

He prayed for a way out of his predicament. Friday said he started enquiring about kidney transplants and later realized that a team of local doctors had been doing transplants at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex for many years.

He said one day a distant friend of the family came to see him. He said the friend came a second day and this time he told him he wanted to donate a kidney.

“I was amazed. He told me that God told him to give me a kidney. I said well you do not know if we are a match. He said we will work all those things out,” Friday recalled.

He contacted his doctors and they ran some tests, only to find that the friend was a perfect match.

Friday is now convinced that he has a special role to play for the rest of his life.

“I intend to spend my life being an advocate for people suffering from kidney disease. Many people spend thousands of dollars on getting dialysis and they do not think about transplants because they do not think it is being done here,” Friday said.

He explained that while some drugs are available through public hospitals, the drugs providing optimum care are only available through private pharmacies.

Friday said he was thankful to his children, his brothers, his friend Lisa Aguillera and others who have been supporting him.

Meanwhile, his brother Kevin said they hoped to raise $150,000 to help Friday pay his medical bills. The kidney transplant will be done at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex by local doctors.

The concert will stream from their Facebook page Kidney for Nigel from 5 pm on March 28. It will also be shown on ACTN TV and 98.1 FM.

Kevin said people wanting to make contributions can do so via @GOFUNDME Help for Nigel Kidney Transplant, contribute at First Citizens Bank TT Nigel Friday #Acc 2184738 or call Kevin at 761-1494.