Stevie Wonder announces break from music for kidney transplant
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According to speculative reports back in 2019, the US singer’s health was dwindling. It was rumoured that the star had been diagnosed with kidney failure and was having dialysis. Despite concerns for his health, the singer carried on performing, touring and keeping in high spirits. Joan Belgrave, a longtime friend of the singer was reported saying: “He’s got some health challenges, but he doesn’t want a big PR thing out of this. He’s in great spirits. You would never know anything is going on. That’s how he wants it, and that’s how he wants to keep it.” Later in October 2020, the Isn’t She Lovely singer gave fans an update, saying that he had had a kidney transplant.
Addressing the numerous rumours about his health, Wonder urged people not to “trust” anything unless it comes from him.
He added: “If I’m feeling some kind of way, I’ll let you know. We don’t want to have misinformation. I am alive and well.”
Revealing more about the success of his transplant surgery the musician continued to say: “Let everybody know that I was blessed with a new kidney and that happened on Dec. 6, 2019.
“Since I have been released from the hospital, I’ve had nurses that have made sure I have my medicine on time and I’m going to take it for as long as I have to — even if it’s for the rest of my life.”
The NHS explains that a kidney transplant is the direct transfer of a healthy kidney from one person into the body of another, whose kidney has little to no function.
As the role of the kidneys is to filter waste products from the blood and convert it into urine, if this is not done, waste products can build up, becoming potentially life-threatening.
This loss of kidney function, known as end-stage chronic kidney disease or kidney failure, is the most common reason for needing a kidney transplant.
Acute kidney failure is when the organs lose their ability to filter. Occurring rapidly, it is most common in people who have already been hospitalised, particularly those who are critically ill.
The sudden signs and symptoms of kidney failure that individuals may notice includes:
- Decreased urine output, although occasionally urine output remains normal
- Fluid retention, causing swelling in your legs, ankles or feet
- Shortness of breath
- Irregular heartbeat
- Chest pain or pressure
- Seizures or coma in severe cases.
Kidney disease on the other hand is a slightly different condition. The NHS explains that it is a long-term condition where the kidneys do not work as well as they should.
It is more common with getting older, and can get worse over time, leading to the kidneys stopping working altogether.
Unlike kidney failure, there are usually no signs or symptoms of kidney disease in the early stages. It may only be diagnosed if you have a blood or urine test for another reason and the results show a possible problem with your kidneys.
At a more advanced stage, symptoms can include:
- Swollen ankles, feet or hands
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling sick
- Blood in your pee (urine).
For those with either kidney failure or kidney disease, it is possible to partially replicate the functions of the kidney using a blood filtering procedure known as dialysis.
However, the NHS warns that this can be inconvenient and time-consuming, so a kidney transplant is the treatment of choice for kidney failure whenever possible.
Currently there is no cure for kidney disease, but treatment may help to relieve symptoms and stop it from getting worse.
The main treatment options available for kidney disease include:
- Lifestyle changes to help you remain as healthy as possible
- Medicine to control associated problems such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol
- Dialysis – treatment to replicate some of the kidney’s functions; this may be necessary in advanced CKD
- Kidney transplant – this may also be necessary in advanced CKD
- Regular check-ups to monitor your condition.
Talking more about his kidney transplant, Wonder said: “I feel great. My voice feels great. I told my daughter, ‘Aisha, I’m going to be like five years younger than you now.’ I said, ‘I’m gonna go from being 70 to like 40.’”
A kidney transplant is a major surgical procedure with a wide range of potential risks. In the short term, these risks include blood clots and infection. Longer-term problems, which include diabetes and an increased risk of infections, are usually related to the medication you need to take to reduce the chance of rejection.
Wonder said: “I feel like I’m about 40 right now and I just thank everyone for their prayers and love. I’m feeling great.”
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