Life-saving surgery set for Windsor man with 30kg kidneys

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams

A Windsor man whose kidneys are five times the size they should be is looking at life-saving surgery in the next few weeks.

Warren Higgs, 54, has struggled with Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) for nearly 20 years. His kidneys have kept growing and now weigh an estimated 30kg each.

This may be a world record – and has had a serious impact on Warren’s life and health. His kidneys are crushing his vital organs, including his lungs, which causes severe breathing problems.

“I’m really starting to struggle, it’s getting harder to breathe every day. My legs are getting weaker because I’m not moving like I should,” said Warren.

The first of seven strokes caused by PKD left Warren paralysed in his right side. He was in Wexham Park Hospital for almost a year. Warren was still physically active before his kidneys made this impossible.

Warren is set to go under the knife on July 12 but may wait up to two weeks for a specific highly skilled surgeon to become available. Unusually, there will be two senior surgeons in the operating room, because of the high risk.

“I feel nervous because I know how risky the surgery is,” said Warren. “I’m not looking forward to the recovery – I have done hard recoveries before but not like this.”

Anaesthesia during surgery is also a risk because of Warren’s breathing trouble. He is currently using a breathing machine to strengthen his breathing.

The surgery will also create problems during recovery, as the core muscles that Warren relies on to pull himself up will not be available to him for a while.

He will also need to be on dialysis until donor kidneys become available – and there is no knowing how long this could be.

“The first thing I will have to do is get my walking back,” said Warren. “My aim is to get back on my main wheelchair, my trike, to strengthen my legs.”

Warren is currently in the process of fundraising for a custom recumbent electric tricycle to help him get out and about. Using a Go Fund Me page, Warren has made it almost halfway to his goal of £9,500.

Although he is entitled to a wheelchair from the NHS, he said that the kind of wheelchair they wanted to provide him with is unsuitable.

He said that using a regular electric wheelchair would cause him to lose mobility, in conflict with his aims.

“I know this (custom trike) is right for me but they won’t help with it – they will only spend money on what I don’t need and don’t want,” he said.

“After surgery, I’m most looking forward to getting some life back,” he added. “What’s really helped my head health is going around Windsor Great Park.”

Warren’s kidneys have drawn the attention of international media in recent days – which he says has been hard, but necessary in order to spread the word about his wheelchair fundraiser.

To see Warren’s Go Fund Me, visit 

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