On her 43rd birthday, Natasha Edwards is at Auckland City Hospital’s Grafton Dialysis Unit, where she spends three mornings every week. Natasha has been on dialysis since 2011.

I just want to be normal, and working will help to balance my life out, beyond diabetes and dialysis.

After suffering from gastroparesis, a condition in which the stomach cannot empty itself properly, Natasha’s deteriorating health left her feeling negative and hopeless.

“I started seeing a psychologist through Auckland City Hospital as part of the kidney transplant screening process and, once I started opening up, my quality of life improved and I gave myself a better chance of living longer.”

As a result of her type 2 diabetes, Natasha is also losing her sight and has had several toes amputated, but she refuses to let it slow her down. As well as starting a job, Natasha is planning a trip to Australia, which is only possible thanks to the hours of care she receives each week at Auckland City Hospital.

“The nurses here are so friendly and the environment makes me feel normal – I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else. I prefer to be here, where it’s clean and there’s great quality of care. They know me and listen to me on my level. Everyone here does a great job, I don’t know where I’d be without them.”

Natasha is on dialysis 4.5 hours a day, three days a week, and she is hopeful the transplant screening process will reveal she is eligible for a kidney transplant. The Auckland DHB Renal Service helps more than 4,000 local patients every year, provides transplant services for the northern half of the North Island, and is the only DHB in New Zealand that performs combined liver and kidney transplants.

“Lucky for me, I have family members who are willing to be live donors.” But in the meantime, Natasha is determined to enjoy her new routine and time with her family, and she is grateful to everyone at the Grafton Dialysis Unit who makes that possible.