Local mum will walk from Armidale to Sydney to raise awareness for renal failure

WALKING FOR AWARENESS: Armidale mother-of-three Nicki Scholes-Robertson will begin her three week trek from Armidale to Sydney next month. Photo: Rachel Baxter.
WALKING FOR AWARENESS: Armidale mother-of-three Nicki Scholes-Robertson will begin her three week trek from Armidale to Sydney next month. Photo: Rachel Baxter.

It’s a four hour drive to John Hunter Hospital, six to Prince Alfred and around 12 hours a week is spent on dialysis.

Nicki Scholes-Robertson knows the route all too well.

The mother-of-three went into renal failure at the end of 2013.

Now, she will walk from Armidale to Sydney to raise awareness for renal disease and for those suffering in the bush.

“For any kind of transplant, Newcastle or Sydney are the closest and the walk identifies the distance,” she said.

“Then we have to spend three months post-transplant in a major centre.

“It’s just one of those things that people don’t know a lot about (and) I want people to realise what’s involved.”

Mrs Scholes-Robertson said she was one of the “lucky” ones.

“My little brother gave me a kidney at the end of 2014,” she said.

“So I’ve been doing some work with the local Armidale Kidney Club.

“I do a lot of work trying to support the Armidale Renal Unit at the hospital and other people with renal disease.

“I was doing a lot of little fundraisers … eventually I thought ‘I’m just going to do a big one’ and I felt very strongly about emphasising how far away we are from major hospitals.”

KIDNEY HEALTH AWARENESS: Armidale Hospital’s renal team sell finger buns earlier this year to raise awareness for Kidney Health Australia.

KIDNEY HEALTH AWARENESS: Armidale Hospital’s renal team sell finger buns earlier this year to raise awareness for Kidney Health Australia.

Half of the money raised from the walk will go to Armidale’s Renal Unit and the other 50 per cent will be donated to the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital’s Transplant Institute.

“They do research into kidney and liver transplants,” she said.

Mrs Scholes-Robertson said Armidale’s Renal Unit has six chairs and is operational six days a week.

“We are lucky enough to have a really good renal physician here and we’ve got a social worker and dietitian just for renal disease,” she said.

“We’ve also got quite a few people at home.”

Mrs Scholes-Robertson did dialysis from home but had to train up in Tamworth.

“People still die waiting for organ transplants at the moment,” she said.

The average waiting time to receive a transplant is three years, according to Kidney Health Australia.

Mrs Scholes-Robertson said some people can be waiting 10 years or more.

“It very much depends on your blood type,” she said.

“I’m O-negative and it is the hardest because we can give an organ to anybody but we can only receive an O-negative.

“Some people can’t have transplants, they’re not eligible, because of other factors.

“There’s no cure at all for renal disease.”

There’s no cure at all for renal disease.

Nicki Scholes-Robertson

The most common causes of kidney failure are diabetes and high blood pressure. 

“Mine was an autoimmune disease, then I got strep throat, the two together and that was it,” she said.

“Infection, trauma, chemotherapy or other organ transplants … there’s a whole gamut of factors.”

Almost three years since her life-changing transplant, the Armidale mum has been training for her 510 kilometre hike.

“I started park run when I was on dialysis,” she said.

“We’re so lucky, the park run we have here is incredible.

“We live 15 kilometres out of town and I walk into town on a Sunday.

“I’m now starting to ramp it up, I walk to Uralla and doing some bigger walks.”

Mrs Scholes-Robertson expects the walk, commencing on October 28, will take her three weeks.

“Friends have given us their amazing camper and we’ve got some accommodation along the way,” she said.

“I’m so excited, I can’t wait to do it.”

She will arrive in Sydney on her three-year transplant anniversary, November 18.

“We’re meeting a Circular Quay, and some of my other friends who were in hospital having a transplant around the same time are coming to do the last five or six kilometres,” she said.

“I want people to know that there’s life post-transplant or post-renal failure.

“A transplant is not a cure, it’s another treatment option but it’s pretty much the best treatment option we have available.”

Support Mrs Scholes-Robertson by visiting her Go Fund Me page at www.gofundme.com/ramblingforrenal or drop by Newcastle Permanent in Armidale to make a deposit. 

For updates visit Rambling for Renal on Facebook.