World Kidney Day: Durban radiographer’s kidney transplant highlights potential dangers of protein supplements

Today is World Kidney Day. Picture: Robina Weermeijer / Unsplash

Today is World Kidney Day. Picture: Robina Weermeijer / Unsplash

Published Mar 14, 2024


Today is World Kidney Day, a health awareness campaign focusing on the importance of the kidneys and reducing the frequency and impact of kidney disease.

If you’re a regular gym-goer and often use protein supplements you might want to consider what those supplements could be doing to your kidneys.

28-year-old Nevlin-Daren Naidoo kept a regular gym regimen and lived a healthy lifestyle - with the aid of protein supplements.

Between bench pressing and wanting to change direction in his career, Naidoo - a specialist radiographer - had no idea a blood test, required for a new job, would change his life.

Naidoo shares his life-changing story as the world commemorates World Kidney Day.

Having worked in the private sector for six years, Naidoo wanted to gain experience at a government-run medical facility and would have to undergo a baseline medical test.

“I wanted to take an opportunity that would allow me to expand and improve my knowledge and skills in the field of diagnostic radiography,” said Naidoo.

Nevlin-Daren Naidoo. Picture: Supplied

“When you start at any government medical facility, you are obligated to partake in a medical test and the results indicated that I had Stage 4 renal failure,” he adds.

After consulting with various doctors, he found South African Vascular Surgeon, Dr Vinesh Padayachay who practices at Lenmed Ethekwini Hospital and Heart Centre.

It was during these consultations that Naidoo’s use of supplements could have been the source of his kidney failure.

He began haemodialysis via a temporary dialysis catheter, and at the same time an Arteriovenous (AV) Fistula was created in his left arm.

The prognosis was however grim and Naidoo needed a kidney transplant.

Naidoo said many of his friends and relatives came forward, willing to donate a kidney.

“The first person to offer a kidney was my mum due to our biological relation and matching blood type, however, that was later dismissed due to her age and the risk it would bring to her, so it was no longer an option. The next match was my cousin, my mother's sister's daughter. She was a strong match for both my blood and tissue type,” he said.

Under the care of Dr Padayachy, Naidoo explained that they had to undergo six months of testing to ensure both safety for him as the patient and his cousin.

"We underwent surgery in November 2019 and it lasted between four and six hours. I was placed under close observation in the Intensive Care Unit for five days so the team of specialists could monitor the functioning of the new kidney," he said.

Once discharged, Naidoo had to endure strict isolation for three months. He was not allowed to have visitors or interact with animals.

Naidoo said on his road to recovery, he learnt to never give up hope.

“You have to always remain positive and create better habits that will ultimately lead to a better lifestyle,” he said.

Now at the age of 34 Naidoo says that he is often asked if his diagnosis was linked to the protein supplements he was taking while exercising.

Dr Padayachy explains that kidneys are susceptible to high protein and gym supplements which contain high quantities of protein can be dangerous, more so if used in excess.

Vascular Surgeons Dr Vinesh Padayachy. Picture: Supplied

“Chronic and over-use of supplements can also result in irreversible kidney damage even after stopping use. Overconsumption of protein can overburden the kidneys ultimately resulting in the kidneys to become damaged or dysfunctional,” Dr Padayachy says.

“It is essential to understand that the body filters all waste products from your blood, including protein – so moderation is key.”

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