Raegan Mlynek, a Nurse from Sheffield, recently shared her kidney journey with the National Kidney Federation and her current experiences with dialysis whilst being pregnant.

“Back in 2016 I was diagnosed with IGA nephropathy. Initially, I had gone to my local GP surgery with severe bloating and after routine bloods and a urine test, the results indicated my kidneys were the problem. A renal biopsy confirmed that was the case and I was then told I had chronic kidney disease.

I was on steroids for a whole year and my kidney function was stable for a while at around 50%. I could still do daily activities with ease and other than being on blood pressure medication, my life was pretty much unaffected.

Me and my partner were told that we might find it harder to conceive with me having chronic kidney disease, so when we had been trying for over a year we went to the GP for advice.

After we both underwent tests, it was then we were told that I was not ovulating and I needed fertility treatment. By the time I had gone through various rounds of fertility medications my kidney function was 30% and the doctors were against us going forward with IVF due to the strain it would put on my kidneys.

We had to go through an ethics meeting and had a second opinion with another doctor before it was agreed we could proceed with further treatment as they were happy, we knew the risks involved.

I had my eggs harvested in March of last year 2022 and a frozen embryo transferred in August 2022 which was successful! We were over the moon as it had taken us 4 years to get to this point.

It was when I was 8 weeks pregnant that my urea and potassium was high enough for me to be told I needed dialysis. I wasn’t shocked, I had felt awful. I was so anaemic that I needed 2 units of blood straight away.

The next day I was in hospital having a tunnel line inserted and I had dialysis that evening.

I will never forget the scared look on my partners face when they were explaining all the things that could go wrong.

Initially, I started off having treatment 3 times a week for 2 hours which has gradually increased to 4 times a week for 3 hours.

There is still the potential of needing it up to 6 times a week to keep myself and the baby safe.

I am currently signed off work for the duration of my pregnancy, which is a relief, as I feel it’s a full-time job attending my dialysis and antenatal appointments. I don’t know how I would have been able to fit it all in.

I am so grateful to the doctors for keeping such a close eye on me. I have actually never felt better since being diagnosed with CKD!

My biggest challenge is that I struggle with the amount of hospital visits per week because I find it hard to see friends and family but I know it needs to be done and it’s a small price to pay for becoming parents.

I am currently 24 weeks pregnant and the doctors are planning on delivering the baby any time from 28 weeks to 36 weeks depending on my weekly blood results.

The advice I would give myself before my dialysis treatment is that I can do hard things. I never would have imagined I could have had a line inserted and fistula surgery; I didn’t think I was brave enough. The doctors don’t know if I will continue dialysis after the baby is delivered, but what I do know is I am strong enough to cope with whatever comes my way in the future.”