The Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund (NIKRF) was founded in 1971 by the late Mrs Josie Kerr MBE and her late husband Walter
The Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund aims to raise funds to:
|Support and promote research into the causes, prevention and possible cures for kidney disease.||Provide specialised equipment for research and advances in treatment of kidney diseases unavailable from the National Health Service.|
|To increase public awareness of kidney disease and the success of modern treatment including transplantation.||To promote the National Organ Donor Register.|
Origins of NIKRF
The following letter was written to the Belfast Telegraph by the late Mrs Josie Kerr outlining the background to her kidney failure and to thank the staff at the Belfast City Hospital for the life saving care which she received:
My husband, Walter and I launched the Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund after losing our three sons at birth as a result of pregnancy toxaemia which seriously affected my kidneys.
The story begins when we married on 3rd. October 1959. To our great delight I was pregnant almost immediately. We are both very fond of children. But too soon it was realised something was wrong. After spending months in hospital I was delivered by Caesarian Sections of a baby boy. He died six days later. It was six months before I recovered from the nervous breakdown which followed.
I was again pregnant after a prescribed waiting period of three years. But this time we had learned our lesson - we bought no baby requisites. It was shattering last time deciding what to do with them. Again tragedy struck in spite of hospital care - the baby died.
In 1967 I was pregnant once more. No chances or risks to be taken this time! I had tests every week. Surely all would go well. It did - for the first three months. Kidney disease then raised its ugly head and I was hospitalised for intensive care. I cannot praise the staff too highly, but their efforts were in vain. The baby was to be delivered by Caesarian Section at twenty-eight weeks. Crisis developed at the twenty-seventh week on a Friday night. Early Saturday morning the baby was taken away and died at 4am. Worse was to come. My kidney function stopped and the poison spread through me. The doctor told my husband I had half an hour to live but the Renal Unit Belfast City Hospital might be able to save me.
When transferred to the Renal Unit I was unconscious. Slowly I came back to life but now blind! I could not lift a glass of water; it was a ton weight as were my glasses. Day and night were as one, the tablets placed in my mouth felt gigantic and a roaring filled my head. My back would not stay straight. The nurses as they attended to my smallest need explained it was sheer weakness.
During this period of illness the most beautiful pictures came into my mind. The most frequent was crossing the fields when the sun was just rising, the sky a myriad of colours and the rich grass heavy with dew. Another was winter and a heavy frost, every leaf and blade glistening like a million diamonds in the clear sunlight. I saw us going swimming - where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down after a hard day's work in the Post Office and the fields - the setting sun made the sea all the colours of the rainbow.
One morning I saw a glimpse of red and screamed for the nurse - one sat beside me round the clock for three weeks. The nurse was as excited as I was. The pressure was easing on the optic nerve. Day by day my fluid intake continued “by the drip”, fed through the vein in my arm. Then one day the kidneys just started to work again. I will never forget it.
Three weeks passed, I was doing well - ah! the first cup of tea - the taste of it after so long. Now I could wash myself. Best of all one glorious day gowned like a surgeon, Walter approached and was allowed to kiss me. I really felt I might make it. Then the forth week my strength left me. I could not even open my eyes. The doctors gathered round - shock had caught up with me - twenty four hours would tell.
It was a slow desperate fight back to health. My sight returned first as a zig- zag rainbow but in time cleared. I joined the therapy class and we made poppies for Remembrance Day. I learned to walk again - gradually my balance returned.
One wonderful Friday I was allowed home for the weekend. The joy of it - but only one black spot - an empty chair. My mother had died in the next ward to me one month before I so nearly joined the angels.
That was in 1967. Today I lead an active life as Post Mistress, farmer’s wife and was President of Lenaderg Women’s Institute. Here in Northern Ireland we join people of every class and creed with but one aim - to raise funds for research.,
Distribution of Renal services
in Northern Ireland